Election Guide 2018: Treasurer

Published on: October 18th, 2018

Statewide Office

Treasurer

Brian Watson (R)

Watson grew up on the Western Slope and graduated from University of Colorado Boulder. He founded Northstar Commercial Partners, a commercial real estate investment company, 18 years ago in downtown Denver. He also volunteers for nonpartisan nonprofit Opportunity Coalition and has a pledge not to take a salary from the government if elected.

Role of Office: “The Treasurer has three official duties and a fourth unofficial duty. 1. Serve on the sixteen member board of the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) 2. Manage the state’s $6 billion investment portfolio 3. Manage the unclaimed property division. “Each of these duties are vital and important to the state’s finances, and there is a fourth unofficial duty that encompasses my attitude towards all the others: To speak out on financial matters pertaining to the State of Colorado and be a steward of our money. I believe that I have a duty to protect the taxpayers and ensure our money is safe and our financial portfolio is sound. As the only candidate in this race who has been in a fiduciary responsibility, managing millions of dollars of others’ hard-earned money, I know what it takes to be a steward and to use my financial expertise to serve each and every Coloradan in the State Treasurer’s office. Our state faces immense long-term financial challenges, and I know that by putting partisan politics aside and breaking down barriers between people, we can solve these complex problems and be a model for the rest of America.”

Goals: “The lasting legacy I want to leave as State Treasurer of Colorado is fixing PERA for our public employees and the taxpayers of Colorado. At $30 billion, PERA is the single largest debt obligation facing our state, and we must keep our promises to our public employees while finding solutions that put us back on track. I want to be a leader on PERA by making it a people-first issue and bringing solutions to the PERA board that work for everyone.My other goals include focusing more energy towards the unclaimed property division and returning the people’s money back to its owners. Our legislature has committed $500,000,000 of the people’s money to government projects – we should remember who our customer is – the people of Colorado, and do more to make it easier for Coloradans to claim what’s rightfully theirs.”

Amendments/ballots effect on office: Watson has concern over the passing of 112 and 73, both he says will have a negative impact on Colorado voters. “Oil and gas industry in Colorado supports over 230,000 jobs in our state and contributes over $31 billion dollars in economic impact. If Prop 112 were to pass it would mean that 147,000 Coloradans would lose their jobs in 12 years.” 

“Amendment 73 is estimated to have a $1.6 billion per year tax hike, which I don’t think is the right answer right now. The state’s business taxes would go up almost 30 percent. I think the state needs to do a better job of prioritizing education in our state budget and ensure funding goes directly into the classroom and to teacher’s paychecks not into administrative salaries and facility costs.”

Renewable energy pledge: “I would love to see things move forward – create new companies, create entire new industries, but I think we need to make sure the market economics work so it doesn’t become too tremendous of a burden for the people of Colorado which increase the costs even more.”

Gerald Kilpatrick (American Constitution Party) 

Kilpatrick has been a Certified Public Accountant for 36 years. He also has small business and corporate America experience. If elected, he would make this his full-time job. He is a first-time candidate for office. 

Role of office:  “Unclaimed property, treasury services where they invest, and they pay the bills. A lot of the current candidates are stressing on the investments but most of that is limited by law. They have to be certain safe investments, we don’t want money tied up that’s going to cause us big losses. I’d like to see us look at these contracts we have with these investment bankings and have them reviewed and make sure that we’re doing it in house. A lot of the time we have these experts from the outside and we probably end up paying more for services that we could do cheaper in house. As far as the checkbook, that’s really what I want to concentrate on. I’m an accountant at heart. I think we need to look at what we’re paying and make sure that we’re being transparent on what we pay and that we’re watching every dollar we spend. That’s where cost containment would be my big thing there. To be fiscally conservative.” 

Amendments/ballots effect on office: “Amendment 73 is going to raise taxes on higher income. My personal opinion is we should probably look at going into a graduated tax system much like the federal government. Colorado has a flat tax and so whether you’re making $10,000, or $110,000, or $110 million dollars, you’re going to pay the same percent and I don’t think that’s fair.”

Renewable energy pledge: “We gotta be less paper. We need to be more transparent. We need to do an annual statement to the taxpayer about what we did with their money, how it was spent, and where it was spent in a concise format. We don’t need to put out these brochure type reports that governments so often do that no one reads. We waste so much paper. Concise cliff-notes that are sent out to the people.” 

Changes: “The first thing is, you have to show up. You have to be there with the people and let them know you’re with them. Many times what they expect out of the executives is to remove roadblocks, find efficiencies, and encourage the workers to get in their and do the job. They’re the experts. The people that are doing the day-to-day jobs are the ones getting the work done. We need to listen to them and ask for their advice. I’m in there to learn what they’re doing and make their job easier.”

Dave Young (D) *

Young was born and raised in Colorado and graduated from CSU with a degree in Mathematics and then went on to pursue a Masters at CU Denver. He taught for 25 years, taught at CU Denver for 10 years, private sector for 10 years. He’s been the state representative in Greeley for seven years and was part of the joint-budget committee. “I think I have a really firm understanding of how state government works, how it interfaces with other levels of government, the financing of the state of Colorado, and what the real needs are.”

Role of office: “A lot of people really don’t know what goes on the Treasurer’s Office and as a result a lot of them just don’t pay attention to it. About six and a half of [the state’s budget of] 30 billion is flowing through the treasurer’s office at any given time.  It’s important that that money is safe, that’s the number one priority. You wanna make sure that the investments that are done with that money are transparent, and they’re productive. There’s about 30 plus people that are employed in the Treasurer’s Office, is this great Colorado payback program. It’s called the incoming property trust fund, but it’s money that people sometimes get or other property that gets separated from. It might be a refund of some kind that they were do or a insurance beneficiary that’s due some money, or maybe a property that’s in a safety deposit box. There’s been some problems over the past couple years, people have submitted claims where they were left hanging for months, if not over a year, wondering what was going on and not getting their money back or their property back so there’s work that needs to be done in that particular part of the office and there’s been some attention in it. The third is really more a role of the treasurer PERA. The treasurer sits as a voting member of the PERA board. There’s 16 voting members and the treasurer is one of them.” 

Amendments/ballots effect on office: “We have a funding crisis in the state of Colorado. We have a deep deep hole in every aspect of our budget. We have a funding crisis in K-12 education and I don’t think people understand that.  Over half the school districts in the state have at least one school on a four day week. Currently we have over 3,000 vacant teaching positions in the state, which is pretty significant as well. Amendment 73 is an effort to address this 7.3 billion dollar hole that we have in K-12 public school section of the budget. It generates about 1.6 billion dollars. The superintendents and others that have worked on this believe that it addresses the hemorrhaging of the funding that they’re seeing losing from their school district.”

“We haven’t increased our gas tax since 1991. Cost of living has increased and in fact cost of construction has definitely increased. The 109 anticipates bonding and using general fund revenue in order to pay back those bonds… If taxpayers commit to 109 than that money has got to come from some other part of the budget that’s always strapped. So, is it gonna come from Medicaid, is it gonna come from K-12 education, is it gonna come from higher education? I mean let’s go down the list. Where does it actually come from?”

Renewable Energy: “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done outside the lane of the Treasurer’s Office and taking the lead and working with other levels of government in a collaborative way and with other community leaders across the state, and citizens in general I think is how we’re gonna solve these problems.  I certainly come from an area that’s impacted by oil and gas, we have quite a bit of economic development in the Greeley area and Weld County. We also have concerns about health and safety. I wish that 112 would have been written as local control initiative instead of the 2,500 foot setback because I think at the end of the day, each community should be trying to figure out the best solution for a number of issues around oil and gas based on the needs and issues of their community. What works in Greeley might be different than what works in Boulder. But there should be some latitude for communities to figure that out, but we don’t have that.”

ENDORSEMENT FOR DAVE YOUNG: Dave Young is the candidate with the most relevant experience, the deepest insight into the role of the treasurer, and the firmest grasp of the roles of the office and his role in effect administration. With a current treasurer leaving under a cloud and transparency an issue, we see Dave Young as the person to clean out the closets and get our financial house in order.

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