Last week, northern Kentucky Rep. Steve Doan (R-Erlanger) filed legislation to abolish the Office of the Treasurer.
The treasurer serves as the state’s elected fiscal officer and provides a watchdog role of state spending, including the governor’s office.
House Bill 341 would abolish the office and put the duties of the office under the auditor’s office and a newly formed State Treasury.
Those two entities would provide monthly investigations that would be given to the governor.
The findings from those investigations would be published semi-annually in two newspapers with statewide circulation.
Currently, the state auditor and the treasurer provide these investigations according to language in the Kentucky constitution.
“The office of the Treasurer is a redundant office,” Doan said. “While the office has seen an expansion of its powers over the last few years, it is my intent to consolidate redundant functions and save taxpayer dollars.”
Doan said he would also file a companion bill that moves the administrative functions to the Finance and Administration Cabinet.
“We would address the technical functions there,” Doan said.
The bill would change the language in the Kentucky Constitution, requiring voters to vote on the measure via a constitutional amendment.
Doan’s bill also isn’t the first time a legislator from the region has filed legislation to abolish the treasurer’s office.
Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ryland Heights) filed similar legislation in 2014. Senate Bill 58 passed the Senate but died in the House.
At the time, Democrat House Speaker Greg Stumbo agreed with the legislation.
McDaniel said his point of view changed since 2014 when he called the office “obsolete.”
“I’m still not entirely convinced that the treasurer’s office is necessary, but we need some checks and balances on the governor’s spending, and the treasurer provides an interesting check to gubernatorial spending,” McDaniel said.
Further, McDaniel said his thoughts started to change during former Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration when his administration gave $15 million to Braidy Industries — a deal that required the state to chase down its lost money.
“The treasurer provides that last bit of independent oversight,” McDaniel said. “And so I find myself a little more torn than I was a couple of years ago.”
At the time, State Treasurer Todd Hollenbach would have been bad policy for the Commonwealth.
Current Treasurer Allison Ball assumed the office in 2016 but is term-limited — the treasurer is elected every four years, along with the state’s other constitutional offices, including State Auditor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Agriculture Commissioner, and Governor.
Ball is currently running for state auditor.
Ball said the office is essential and that since she’s taken office, she’s stopped unconstitutional and illegal expenditures, increased transparency by launching a website, prevented embezzlement, thwarted millions of dollars of fraud, returned more than $150 million to Kentuckians, and improved financial literacy in the Commonwealth.
“It is important our Commonwealth has an elected watchdog who is accountable to the People and not a part of government bureaucracy,” Ball said. This is essential for government transparency, the protection of taxpayer dollars, and separation of powers.”
Further, she said, “This position was created by the KY Constitution to serve an important role in our system of government, and it should remain accountable to the people through the election process.”
Doan said he doesn’t think the bill will get much “traction” this session.
“I do not believe there is much interest in the caucus for passing a constitutional amendment that may take away for other priority amendments, should they pass,” Doan said.