PHOENIX - A probable rollback of federal protections put in place after the recession means Oregon must be even more vigilant in its stewardship of public funds, said newly-sworn in State Treasurer Tobias Read.
Read made those comments and laid out his priorities as treasurer during his swearing-in ceremony Friday.
Read, a Democrat, won the November election over Republican Jeff Gudman by a slim margin to earn the new job.
He comes to the treasurer's office after 10 years on the state House of Representatives.
His predecessor, Ted Wheeler, was elected mayor of Portland.
"We are likely to see shifts in Washington, D.C. in those agencies that protect investors from fraudulent activities like we saw in the run up to the Great Recession," Read said. "Eroding those protections and transparency means increased risk for every Oregonian."
There is a widespread belief that the Trump administration means to roll back some market regulations put in place over the previous eight years, a belief reinforced by cabinet picks such as longtime Wall Street lawyer Jay Clayton to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission. Read hinted that Oregon is prepared to battle it out in court under the worst circumstances.
"For prudent and responsible investors like Oregon, it means we will need to step up, especially where federal protections are rolled back," said Read. "As a major shareholder, Oregon has the ability to hold CEOs accountable, to support and encourage reforms that protect investors and our financial interests. We are the line of defense for Oregon values and investments, and we will use our clout to press for transparency, accountability, and investor protections. And if that doesn't work, we are not afraid to call our lawyers."
The new treasurer also laid out some priorities, including a focus on long-term investing with an eye toward taking on infrastructure and schools.
"Crumbling roads and bridges; aging pipes, unsafe and inadequate school facilities; an environment and economy threatened by global climate change -- these challenges all require long-term thinking and they defy soundbite solutions," he said.
He also vowed to maintain the public trust, saying that the management of the state's central bank shouldn't be "a hot topic." Read closed with an optimistic vision.
"I will strive to manage our risks and improve the financial condition of Oregon and Oregonians," he said. "You'll find me travelling to the corners of the state to ask you and our fellow Oregonians to invest your time and your efforts to help build a better Oregon future, for all of us."