Candidates: Oregon State Treasurer

The term for Oregon Treasurer is 4 years. The annual salary is $77,000.

We asked candidates for Oregon Treasurer the same three questions:

  1. Would you support a state bank for Oregon? Why or why not?
  2. What criteria or factors would you use to make the right decisions for Oregon’s state forests?
  3. What ideas do you have for fulfilling the obligations of the PERS system?

Here are their replies, as received with no edits or corrections:

Candidate did not respond by deadline.

Tobias Read, Working Families Party and Democrat

tobiasread.com

  1. On the need for a state bank.

Oregon State Treasury provides many of the functions that proponents point to as desirable benefits of a “state bank.”  I understand why people are looking for ways that the state can better support locally owned lending institutions and small businesses. I think there are faster and less expensive ways to do that. I’m very interested in looking for ways that OST, as well as existing programs that are located at Business Oregon and with the Growth Board, can better align to accomplish these goals

  1. On decisions for Oregon’s state forests.

My priority on the State Land Board is to modernize how we approach the investment portfolio. Ultimately we must manage the portfolio in a way that recognizes both the environmental and economic impact that will result from our decision making. Giving weight to considerations that meet the public’s general benefit such as conservation or recreation can also help give us a broader picture when making decisions

  1. On ideas for fulfilling PERS obligations.

I have a responsibility to advocate for wise financial policy that stabilizes Oregon’s long run financial future. I have worked to move some of our investment operations in house which has reduced the expenses we pay in fees to Wall Street firms. I’ve also sought to be honest about the pension system. There are many seeking elected office who pedal false promises, packaged up as supposed “reform” which are dismissive of the real constraints placed upon the system by our courts.

Chris Henry, Progressive and Pacific Green Party

chrishenry.org

  1. On the need for a state bank.

Creating a viable State Bank for Oregon is my top priority. The State of Oregon has over $115 billion of investment funds, much placed with Wall Street, hedge funds, vulture capitalists who take about $1 billion/year in fees (undisclosed) and direct nearly 100% to businesses outside Oregon. Oregon local governments pay Wall Street high interest rates + over $100 million/year bond placement fees. They could borrow for much less from a State Bank. See www.orpublicbank.org and www.chrishenry.org.

  1. On decisions for Oregon’s state forests.

Oregon should not sell the Elliot State Forest or any other state forest. The forests are Oregon’s primary carbon sink and should be maintained to absorb some of the massive amounts of greenhouse gases we emit. We should manage them labor-intensively, without aerial spraying of pesticides. We should plant industrial hemp at appropriate locations to produce 50 times the fibre per acre of old growth forest.

  1. On ideas for fulfilling PERS obligations.

Oregon has less unfunded PERS obligations per capita than 40 other states. Still, increasing PERS costs are a problem. As the only non-corporate, pro-worker candidate in this race, I do not support further cuts to employee benefits, and the Oregon Supreme Court has ruled that retirees are entitled to the benefits they earned. A State Bank could save Oregon up to $1 billion/year in financier fees, while investing in Oregon jobs and more than covering the PERS deficit. More at www.chrishenry.org.

Jeff Gudman, Republican

JeffGudman.org

  1. On the need for a state bank.

A state bank will require a voter approved change to Oregon’s constitution. At this time, there are far more pressing needs to address than a change to the Oregon Constitution to permit a state owned bank.

  1. On decisions for Oregon’s state forests.

Serving on the State Land Board is the Treasurer’s only Constitutional role, Oregon’s assets are our state forests and waterways, not just currency. Like any financial asset, we want to that grow and must plan for restocking. My approach is to recognize the discretion and flexibility that the law gives us to allow non-economic factors. I would apply federal environmental law robustly and I will make my decisions using collaborative, fact based research based on current law and regulations

  1. On ideas for fulfilling PERS obligations.

There are no easy answers to the PERS obligations but I have ideas: redirect unanticipated revenue from the 2017 Federal Tax Act to the unfunded liability; evaluate the applicability of the recently adopted OHSU retirement program for all of Oregon; undertake no new infrastructure projects (but maintain/improve all existing infrastructure) and redirect those funds to the unfunded liability; consider joint adoption of a reduction in the income tax and introduction of a sales tax by voter approval