Senate approves bill to abolish Ky treasurer; Hollenbach calls bill 'cynical expression of willful ignorance'

02/04/2014 05:38 PM

With just enough votes to pass a constitutional amendment, the Kentucky Senate approved a measure to abolish the office of state Treasurer on Tuesday, while Treasurer Todd Hollenbach moved to defend the job he’s held for six years.

Senate Bill 58 — proposed by Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill — passed the Senate Tuesday 23-15. It was a largely party line vote with the 14 Democrats and Republican Sen. Brandon Smith of Hazard, who ran for the office in 2007, voting against it. A constitutional amendment requires a three-fifths majority in each chamber and must be ratified by voters in an even-year election.

McDaniel told Pure Politics after the bill passed a Senate committee last month that the measure would save taxpayers $1.3 million and an additional $750,000 once employees of the office were located elsewhere in state government.

If the constitutional change is accepted, the Finance and Administration Cabinet would take over most of the duties of the treasurer starting in January 2016. The treasurer is responsible for signing and printing state checks and serves on a number of boards, including the Kentucky Lottery Board. Hollenbach’s office also is responsible for unclaimed property of payroll checks and the contents of safety deposit boxes.

Hollenbach told Pure Politics that the bill is “bad legislation.”

“It seems to me that it’s just kind of a cynical expression of willful ignorance wrapped in a shroud of partisan hypocrisy,” Hollenbach said.

While the case is being made that the treasurer’s office could be absorbed by the finance cabinet, Hollenbach said that his office delivers the attention to detail state financial transactions deserve.

Voters, Holenbach says, will give up their constitutional rights to choose who heads the office if the bill moves forward too.

“They’re asking them to strip out an important segregation of duties within our system of checks and balances that were built into the constitution by the framers of the constitution, and they’re not going to be replacing that with anything,” Hollenbach said.

The bill now moves to the House where it faces an uncertain future. House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said the office was “pretty antiquated” while speaking to reporters in January.


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