Sen. Jon Casper on why he thinks the ND Treasurer's Office should be phased out

Sen. Jon Casper, (R) Fargo, discusses why he thinks the ND Treasurer's Office should be phased out. He believes government will be more efficient and reduce redundancies without that office.

FULL TRANSCRIPT:

(Please note - this transcript was copied from an electronic captioning service. We apologize for any errors, spelling, grammatical, or otherwise.)

Chris Berg:
A bill has been introduced to have the people of North Dakota potentially vote on eliminating the state treasury office. This is to help right-size the government in North Dakota. With us tonight is one of the co-sponsors of the bill, Senator Jon Casper. Let’s start with the basics here. People hear about state treasury office. Many people go, what does that do for me and the people of the state of North Dakota?

Sen. Jonathan Casper:
It's great to be on with you, Chris, appreciate the opportunity to be in studio here in Bismarck, talking about the work we're steadily doing at a quick pace here for the people of north Dakota. I’d encourage people to go out and google North Dakota office, you'll see various funds, the dollar amounts in them, tracking that, processing that. A lot of it is duplicative. A lot of it is done by agencies, tax department.so i think with this bill it's giving the people of North Dakota an opportunity to slim line, make government more efficient and effective and there's better places where that role can be served.

CB:
Let me ask you this, inviting people to go google the great website, great point. It shows people where the money is at and where it's going. Why get rid of an office that creates more transparency for the people's money?

JC:
I they if you look back at the election cycle, if you -- I reread the governor's state of the state address today. The question has been asked, can government be better? Can we be more efficient, effective? This is the first step in that direction. The people of North Dakota overwhelmingly elected governor Burgum on 75% plus on a message of revitalizing government, transforming government, using technology. So I think we can provide the exact same service as efficiently as effectively as for the people in North Dakota for the same cost as other agency.

CB:
I get that. But why start with the agency or office that is providing the most transparency about our money?

JC:
Well, there's -- right off the top immediately there would be a $2 million cost savings for the office. I think this is -- I’m looking agency by agency, budget by budget, areas where we can combine agencies, create efficiency. On its face, this is an agency that other departments are providing other information, other departments can publish that same information, provide the same level of transparency to the people of North Dakota. It’s the first step in the right direction.

CB:
Some might say hey, you're an agency, some people want to get rid of this office that allows more transparency to put more power in the hands of governor or legislators. What do you say to those people?

JC:
I don't see that being the case at all. Our legislature is probably the most transparent in the entire country. Any person can come testify on any bill, everything is public, we're not hiding behind staff or major offices. I think we'll have the exact same level of transparency that we do now.

CB:
Let's say you get rid of the state treasury office. What’s your plan to ensure that all these responsibilities are being taken on by somebody else and who would those responsibilities be taken on by?

JC:
Let's be clear, the legislature wouldn't be getting rid of the state treasury's office, people of North Dakota would. The legislation that's before the house of representative sponsored by Mike Nathe from Bismarck, if it passes house and senate, signed by the governor, will give the people of North Dakota to vote to eliminate the office. Once that curse there's corresponding legislation, that triggers a special committee in the legislation in the intern called legislative management, will dispense with the roles and responsibilities of the treasury's office and assign those to different areas of the government. Typical in the legislature, making policies --

CB:
Senator Casper, one thing I want to share with you. I spoke with Kelly Schmidt today, she told me -- she was doing a budget testimony if you will, Representative Nathe was putting together a press release of what you guys are up to, sent that out before you and he ever spoke, to Kelly Schmidt. Why not go talk to Schmidt, this is what we want to do. She felt blindsided by this. Do you think that's the right approach?

JC:
No, I don't think that's the right approach. I think that there's been discussions for a long time with different people in state government about eliminating the office. I myself have not had a chance to have a discussion with Kelly yet. I’d defer to Mike and his timing on releasing the press release. From my understanding of discussion with Mike, he was the prime sponsor of the bill so I looked at him to have that conversation with Kelly and it was my understanding he reached out to her and spoke to her.

CB:
Just for clarity, you feel, hey, he should have spoken to her before he obviously released the press release to let her know it was coming, yes?

JC:
Well, absolutely. That being said, things happen "fast and furious" out here sometimes, Chris. We don't function in a perfect world. Between committee meetings and press releases getting dropped, things happen that way.my understanding is -- it was my up standing that mike intentioned to talk to Kelly before the press release hit and the timing worked out, unfortunate incident.

CB:
It's not my business to meddle, just so you know she felt blindsided. We’ve got 30 seconds here, everyone wants to right size North Dakota. Quickly, one, two, three, what are some other agencies you think we could eliminate in North Dakota?

JC:
Well, I’m looking at rolling some things under the insurance department, there's issues of security. I'm going through it this week, we've got another week to put bills in and reviewing those.

CB:
Senator Jon Casper, appreciate your time, I know things are fast and furious out there.



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