School bonds and fate of Wisconsin treasurer's office at stake in Tuesday vote

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CHICAGO – Wisconsin school districts are seeking approval for about $536 million worth of bonds in referendums Tuesday, while voters statewide will decide the fate of the treasurer’s office.

The Wheeler Report blog that covers state politics says 66 school finance referendums are on the ballot.

Six districts seek voter approval to exceed revenue limits on a recurring basis, 25 seek to exceed revenue limits on a nonrecurring basis and 35 are asking for a total of $535.9 million of bonding authority.

Chippewa Falls Area District is seeking $65 million in borrowing authority. D.C. Everest Area School District is seeing approval for up to $60 million in bonding to finance a district-wide school building and construction program.

River Falls has two measures seeking $48 million in debt authority. Plymouth School District wants approval for $32 million of borrowing for various capital improvements to its high schools and several elementary schools.

Statewide, voters will have their say on a constitutional amendment over whether to abolish the state treasurer’s office.

“In recent decades, lawmakers and the governor have transferred most of the treasurer’s duties to other state agencies. If voters approve the amendment, Wisconsin would join five states that have eliminated or merged the treasurer with another office,” says a report on the amendment from the Wisconsin Policy Forum.

The office was established in 1839 and became a partisan statewide elective position in 1848 under that year's state constitution. The treasurer serves a four-year term. The treasurer once had sweeping cash management duties but most have been moved elsewhere in state government. The office’s budget has shrunk from $4.4 million two decades ago to $227,000 in the current biennial budget.

Supporters of the change believe the office is no longer needed and its elimination would save money. Opponents counter the elected official serves as an independent voice on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands.

The current treasurer, Matt Adamczyk, a Republican, supports abolishing the office. Former treasurer Jack Voight, a Republican, supports keeping the office. A simple majority is needed on the constitutional amendment and for the school referendums.

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