While the Democratic candidate for State Treasurer – Derrick Edwards -- was a no-show, the three leading Republicans fielded reporters’ questions at the Baton Rouge Press Club Monday.
Since all of them have said they would pattern their term, if elected, on former treasurer John Kennedy’s “watchdog” persona, the first question was: what do you see as the Treasurer’s main role?
“The role of the Treasurer, obviously, is to take care of the money in a conservative, practical way for the state,” former state Representative John Schroder of Covington replied.
“The Treasurer is actually the face of Louisiana to Wall Street,” said Angele Davis, who served as former Governor Bobby Jindal’s Commissioner of Administration.
“The state Treasurer is the state banker,” state Senator Neil Riser of Columbia, a banker himself, replied
Each was asked how they would deal with Louisiana’s upcoming $1.3- billion fiscal cliff.
Davis said: “We get rid of statutory dedications and we need to prioritize our expenditures. I would cut low-performing programs, and I would get rid of complete programs – not just cuts across the board.”
“The citizens of this state do not want to raise their taxes. So therefore you have no choice, but to cut expenses,” Schroder replied. “And where’s half the money spend in the state budget? Half of it’s spent on health care. That’s where you’re going to have to start.”
Riser simply stated, “The Treasurer does not vote on the budget.”
But the Treasurer does have a duty that could help Louisiana’s bottom line: managing the investments of state funds. Candidates were asked about their investment experience.
“I think the conservative nature of investing is the same principle that I’ve followed throughout my business career,” Schroder responded.
“I have served on several state government boards -- retirement system boards -- where we have had to monitor the investments and investment policies,” Davis stated, adding that if elected, she would conduct a review of state investment policies.
Riser pointed to previous state investment mistakes that negatively impacted funding streams
“We’ve had some of our money invested in golf courses. We had some retirements that did that.,” Riser said. “And I can tell you clearly, that is not good banking practice. You’re gambling at that point.”
The election is October 14th, and early voting begins this Saturday.