While there is much debate in Madison over the "success" the Legislature has had in creating jobs, lawmakers are close to creating the perfect government job--one that includes absolutely no real duties. I'm talking about the position of State Treasurer--which could become even less relevant following a vote by the Joint Finance Committee last week to transfer control of the state's unclaimed property division to the Department of Revenue.
As current Treasurer Kurt Schuller would tell anyone with a microphone last week, tracking down the owners of unclaimed property was pretty much the only job he still had. Now he is left with nothing to do but to "chair" the Public Land Trust meetings twice a month--which he can do over the phone. Schuller ran on a campaign of eliminating the Treasurer position altogether--and he did try to get a bill passed in the Legislature to do it--but it failed. So now we are stuck with an elected government position that really exists in name only. And that pays an annual salary of $68,556--plus state health care benefits and (if you keep the position long enough) a government pension.
Did I catch your attention now? Yes, the state is offering a position that 68-K plus bennies and potential retirement and you only have to make two phone calls a month. And you can work from home! No need to relocate to Madison or rent a place down there during the week. You can be "Treasurer" from anywhere! The lake house, the golf course, even your bedroom in Mom's basement! It's what every recent college graduate who can't find a job in the field of Liberal Arts, sociology and ethnic studies is dreaming about.
Now the "job interview" is a bit of a challenge. First you have to get 2,000 signatures on nomination petitions--and then you have to convince a majority of people living in that state that vote next November to support you--but with today's social media campaigns that really shouldn't be that hard. (Honestly, if I hadn't mentioned the current Treasurer's name earlier--you would have no idea who he is--even if you voted for him in 2010.)
I would expect at least a half a million people to file papers to run for Treasurer next year--now that it has become the ultimate "do nothing" position. Another half million should be in the running for the previous "most useless" state job--Secretary of State--which has been held for the better part of the last 40-years by Douglas (My Father's Third Cousin Twice Removed Was Related By Marraige To Battling Bob) La Follette--and which is losing its main purpose (to publish new state laws) to the Department of Administration. That position also pays $68,556 a year plus benefits and retirement. Again, pretty sweet work if you can get it.
The state Treasurer and Secretary of State are antiquated positions dating back to a less technologically advanced time in history. Audits and public records laws have eliminated the need for an "independent 3rd party" to handle and keep track of the state's money. And the publishing of state laws can now be done with the simple pasting of a PDF file on a website. But if our state is going to insist on keeping those positions around--we may as well all try to get our "money for nothing".