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3 Republicans Seek Treasurer's Position

BY Bob Johnson
by Bob Johnson on 5/25/02.

A former first lady, former banker and former Republican Party official believe they have the experience needed to handle the billions of taxpayer dollars that flow through the state treasurer's office daily.

Seeking the Republican Party nomination for state treasurer, which pays $66,722 a year, are former first lady Lisa Wallace; the former executive director of the state Republican Party, Twinkle Andress; and Kay Ivey, a former banker who has been endorsed by the Alabama Bankers Association.

A major issue in the treasurer's race is how the treasurer should handle the daily reinvestment of the taxpayer's money. All three promise to get the most for the taxpayers' money.

"It's important that we get the best return on our money every night," said Andress, who believes her experience as a former business owner will help her negotiate the best possible interest with Alabama banks. "One-tenth of a percentage point can make a big difference."

Ivey said she wants to make sure the technology is in place in the office to make sure the treasurer can deposit the state's money "in the most timely way."

Wallace also said she believes the way money flows from the treasurer's office into the state's banks can be improved.

"Increasing electronic payments and having online capabilities with the major banks can save the state money on banking charges and make money available for investment sooner," Wallace said in a written statement.

Andress said the fact that the state treasurer sits on at least 17 different boards and commissions is one reason why experience is needed in the office.

"I have spent a lot of time being the people's watchdog. This position takes a true conservative," she said. "I know what it is to budget, to negotiate with banks, to meet a payroll. We need someone who understands what is best for the people of Alabama."

A former official with Merchant's National Bank in Mobile, Ivey said she believes her experience would help her establish a rapport with the state's bankers.

"The treasurer is custodian of all state funds," Ivey said. "This is a reason the treasurer needs to be someone with banking background. This is not an entry level position for someone who wants to get into state government."

A former mathematics teach, Wallace suggests the treasurer's office could begin a program in Alabama's schools to teach children financial responsibility. She said this program, which would target middle school students, might help cut down on Alabama's bankruptcy rate, which is third highest in the country.

All three GOP candidates want to continue the prepaid college tuition program that the treasurer oversees.

"Anything we can do to help parents ease the burden of sending children to college, I would like to see done," said Andress, a a former staff member of the Republican National Committee and former state director of Citizens for a Sound Economy.

Ivey said the treasurer needs to work to increase the enrollment in the prepaid tuition program. She said one way to do that would be to develop a system where employers can participate with employees in the program. She also suggested increased marketing efforts, such as providing brochures to mothers receiving prenatal care before the birth of a child.

Wallace looks to expanding the college savings effort.

"Over 50,000 families participate in this program," Wallace said. "Currently, room and board are not ordinarily covered, yet over half of the costs of college are room and board."

Ivey said it's important for the public to trust the person who handles the taxpayers' money. She said the first thing she's doing to earn that trust is not putting up campaign signs on public rights of way.

"The people must trust the treasurer to abide by the law and do the people's business," Ivey said. "I'm trying to demonstrate my integrity. My signs are not hanging from trees, they are not on the roadside."

Wallace, who was the third wife of the late Gov. George Wallace, said she has been working with business leaders in the state to develop a strategic plan "which will transform our state treasury into a twenty-first century financial management operation."