By Derek Kreifels
First published by OpportunityLives.com
Oftentimes, as in many presidential election years, down ballot races get overlooked. But in the age of state budget shortfalls, underfunded pension liabilities and other financial issues, the election of a state treasurer will be one of the more important races to follow in 2016.
The State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF) recently commissioned a national Google consumer survey asking Americans, “Who do you believe is the most trustworthy source of information about state financial matters and public funds?”
The results showed an overwhelming majority trusting state treasurers over governors and legislators when it comes to financial matters with their respective states.
Of those surveyed, 66.9 percent said they trust the state treasurer when it comes to state financial matters while only 18.2 percent said they trusted their state’s governor. Only 14.9 percent of those surveyed said they trusted their legislator on questions of state finances. The online survey had 761 responses from a national adult Internet population between May 17 and May 19, 2016 .
Americans have made it clear that on state fiscal matters the people trust their state treasurer more than any other state elected office. This puts state treasurers in a unique position to have major impact on public policy.
State treasurers are acting as financial watchdogs, holding governors and legislators accountable to how public funds are being managed and spent. Some have even been referred to as their state’s “fiscal hawk.”
In addition to serving as a state’s chief financial officer, the treasurer generally sits on boards of public pension funds and administers unclaimed property, as well as 529 college savings programs.
The State Financial Officers Foundation’s motto encourages its supporters to “look to the states.” With continuous gridlock in the halls of congress in Washington, D.C., never has a time in history been as important for voters to pay extra close attention to these races for state treasurer.
State treasurers and other elected financial officers are in the trenches evaluating their state’s fiscal health on a daily basis. The issues that they deal with are typically pretty cut and dried. There’s no gray when it comes to public finance.
State treasurers are up for election this November in nine states: Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.
For more information regarding the State Financial Officers Foundation visit www.statefinancialofficers.org.