BATON ROUGE, Le. (BRPROUD) — Early voting for the primary election is just days away, and voters will have to decide on not only a new governor but a new treasurer. The office often flies under the radar, but the candidates running have very different ideas on how to run it.
The Treasurer of Louisiana is at the helm of the state’s investments and gives the green light on bonds for state infrastructure projects. Scott McKnight, John Fleming, and Dustin Granger believe they are the right person to get the state the best return on investment.
“We all want to work as part of a team in Baton Rouge. We’re going to have a lot of work to do because we’ve been in the Huey Long era for a hundred years,” Fleming said.
Fleming, the former Republican congressman and advisor to former President Donald Trump, said he wants to get the Treasurer’s office more involved in reforming the state’s tax code. He was previously the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development and said he wants to bring that experience to expanding development here at home. He also voted on federal budgets during his four terms as Louisiana’s 4th district congressman.
Scott McKnight has spent the past four years as a state representative, so he is familiar with the issues lawmakers face.
“I want to see how we can start moving some of our investments inside our state lines, because if we can’t invest in our state, how do we expect other people to?” McKnight said.
While he believes that Treasurer John Schroder has done a good job in office, McKnight wants to use the office to help tackle the insurance crisis.
“I’m going to start exploring how we can use some of our state assets that we’re investing right now to help this insurance crisis by investing in reinsurance programs, maybe buying some catastrophe bonds,” McKnight said.
McKnight has financial experience in his family’s insurance company and played a role in passing the state’s annual budget while in the state legislature.
The lone Democrat in the race, financial advisor Dustin Granger takes a different approach. He’s focused on getting cities and parishes help while applying for bonds and funding. Being from Lake Charles, Granger experienced firsthand the struggle to get funding for the area in the wake of the destructive hurricanes in 2020.
“We need someone there to help protect us and the people of the state from a lot of the corporate lobby that controls a lot of the legislature,” Granger said.
Treasurers have been caught up in political debates over Environment, Social, and Governance policies — or ESG. This led the state to pull out of banks and ban investing in some companies that don’t align with ideologies some think reflect the state. Fleming and McKnight are together in limiting those investments. Fleming made claims that ESG does not have a positive return on investment. Granger claims the opposite.
Granger believes the state needs to diversify its investments as the economy changes and not limit what it can invest in to keep all possible options open.
“There needs to be a focus on not just protecting just certain industries or trying to protect certain industries that we already have a lot of,” Granger said. “We need to welcome new industries into our state, and that would bring more money into our state.”
Recently, the State Bond Commission has taken on political fights as some members tried to hold up funding for a project in New Orleans after the city council passed an ordinance that said the city would not prioritize the criminal aspects of the abortion ban in the state. All three candidates said they don’t believe that sort of politics belongs in a place focused on the finances of projects to better the state.
“If I disagree with someone on a political thing or a cultural thing, as treasurer, I’m not going to allow that to determine any decision,” Fleming said.
The primary is Oct. 14, and election day is Nov. 18.