Last week we began a preview of the 2016 election in Pennsylvania with an overview of the statewide offices and a more detailed look at the Attorney General’s race. This week we will look more closely at the functions of the State Treasurer and the Auditor General, why these offices are important to you, and who the candidates are in the November election.
The State Treasurer is responsible for fiscal matters in Pennsylvania. The constitutional duty of the Treasury Department, which is an independent department of state government and not under the jurisdiction of either the General Assembly or the Governor, is to safeguard and manage the public funds of the Commonwealth. In this role, the Treasury Department makes payments on behalf of Pennsylvania and invests available public funds to ensure the best return for taxpayer dollars, while at the same time ensuring the Commonwealth has sufficient funds available to pay its financial obligations.
The State Treasurer also operates a number of programs, including a college savings program and a program to assist local governments and non-profits make safe and wise investments, and operates the Bureau of Unclaimed Property, which allows Pennsylvanians to determine if they have assets held by the Commonwealth which they or their families have lost, abandoned, or forgotten about.
An issue that is of great concern to the fiscal health of Pennsylvania is the changing demographics of the Commonwealth. As the average age of Pennsylvanians increases, more residents will be retired and relying on various sources of retirement income. Although many current retirees have pension plans, we know the percentage of employees who have access to a retirement savings plan has dropped dramatically. Proposals for established workplace retirement plans that would not impose any financial burdens on small employers have been implemented in other states and discussed in Pennsylvania, particularly in Philadelphia.
These plans, commonly known as “Work and Save” retirement plans, are similar to the college savings programs already administered by the State Treasurer’s office.
How the next State Treasurer proposes to help guarantee the retirement security of the next generation of Pennsylvania retirees will be an important issue in the coming four years.
Here is an overview of the candidates running for State Treasurer, as well as links to their websites. It is important to note that AARP Pennsylvania does not endorse candidates for public office nor contribute to the campaigns of any candidate
Joe Torsella – Torsella is currently is an attorney with the firm of Reed, Smith, LLP. From 2011 to 2014 he served as a United States Representative to the United Nations for Management and Reform. Prior to this, he was Chair of the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, President and CEO of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, and Deputy Mayor of Philadelphia. He is the Democratic candidate for State Treasurer in the 2016 election.
Otto Voit – Voit is currently President of the Keystone Dental Group, a position he has held for 19 years. He is also Vice-President of the Muhlenberg School District Board of School Directors and President of the Pennsylvania Public Education Foundation. Prior to this, he served in the military and is a veteran of the Persian Gulf War. He also has served as Chief Financial Officer of a number of other companies. He is the Republican candidate for State Treasurer in the 2016 election.
The Auditor General is the chief fiscal officer of Pennsylvania. The Auditor General’s office audits state agencies and other entities that receive public funds in order to ensure that these funds are being spent in an appropriate manner. Specific programs within the jurisdiction of a state agency, or individual entities such as school districts may be subject to audits. The Auditor General’s Office is an independent state agency and is not under the jurisdiction of either the Governor or the General Assembly.
As Pennsylvania struggles with balancing its budget, the importance of ensuring that public funds are spent properly increases. This is particularly true in the case of programs funded by the Pennsylvania lottery to benefit older Pennsylvanians, who have endured waiting lists for critical services in the past.
With more Pennsylvanians expected to need help through programs funded by the lottery over the next few years, the Auditor General has a critical role to play to make sure that lottery dollars are used efficiently and exclusively to benefit older Pennsylvanians as the law creating the state lottery mandated.
Here is an overview of the candidates running for State Treasurer, as well as links to their websites, so that you can learn more about their plans once elected. It is important to note that AARP Pennsylvania does not endorse candidates for public office nor contribute to the campaigns of any candidate
John Brown – Brown currently serves as the Northampton County Executive, a position to which he was elected in 2013. Prior to his election, he served as Mayor of Bangor, Pennsylvania. He has also worked as a corporate executive, primarily in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries. He is the Republican candidate for Auditor General.
Eugene DePasquale - DePasquale currently serves as Pennsylvania’s Auditor General. Prior to his election in 2012 he served as a State Representative from the 95 th District in York, Pennsylvania. He has also worked as the Director of Economic Development for the City of York and as a Deputy Secretary in the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. He is the Democratic candidate for Auditor General, running for re-election.
“Ray’s Round Up” features updates on current state and federal issues by Ray Landis, AARP PA’s Advocacy Manager.