As State Treasurer….
- Sarah leads a $1.3 billion fund that invests in communities across Wisconsin, and her first major action was to get rid of the GOP’s gag order that prevented them from working to combat climate change. Since taking office, the fund has invested more than $299 million supporting over 451 projects in hundreds of communities across Wisconsin.1
- Under Sarah’s leadership, there have been unprecedented distributions for public schools to fund technology and books totaling $154 million. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Sarah led the fund to provide the first-ever special distribution of $5.25 million that addressed the remote learning challenges facing students and teachers.2
- Sarah led the Treasurers Homeowner’s Task Force to help Wisconsinites buy, fix, and stay in their homes. When the pandemic hit, Sarah helped provide critical solutions that would keep people in their homes by creating a Foreclosure Prevention Fund and Statewide Homeownership Network. Most recently, she worked with Governor Tony Evers to secure $92.7 million for struggling homeowners.3
- As Chair of the Retirement Security Task Force, Sarah put forward a groundbreaking plan to expand retirement security that received national recognition, which included an innovative ‘401 (K)ids proposal that would address the financial inequities while setting up Wisconsinites for long-term financial well-being.4
After being elected State Treasurer, Sarah received a memo from the Legislative Reference Bureau that identified 16 responsibilities the office should have been doing but had neglected in recent years under Republican leadership.5
In January 2019, Sarah was unanimously elected to serve as chairwoman of the state Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, a state agency charged with managing 77,000 acres of public lands and over $1.3 billion in state trust funds that benefit K-12 public school libraries and technology, and provide scholarships and grants for Wisconsin universities.6
In one of her first acts as State Treasurer, Sarah lifted the GOP-mandated gag order that forbade discussing climate change and considering its material risk to state investments. Once removed, the investment policy was updated to prioritize investing funds in Wisconsin and consideration of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors. Through the agency’s State Trust Fund Loan Program, Sarah and the board have made significant investments in infrastructure, broadband expansion, and renewable energy.7 8 9
Sarah believes we can combat the climate crisis before consequences get worse by protecting natural resources, sustainably managing lands, improving public access, and preserving outdoor spaces. Most recently, as the Chair of the Board of Commissioner of Public Lands, she worked to preserve a key part of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway along the Namekagon River — transferring 145 acres to the National Park Service and protecting it for future generations.
In August 2019, Sarah and Governor Evers established a Retirement Task Force to create new investment options and expand awareness of retirement planning in Wisconsin.10 In February 2021, the Task Force presented its report to Governor Evers — its recommendations include five proposals: WisconsinSaves, 401(K)ids, Emergency Savings, Incentivize Participation, and an Interactive E-Commerce Portal.11 According to the report, the proposals would improve participation in employer-sponsored retirement plans, increase access to retirement savings, create an emergency savings pocket that protects retirement principal, foster retirement savings at birth, and build financial well-being through centralized information and resources.12
In March 2020, Sarah created the Treasurer’s Homeowners Task Force to make it easier for Wisconsinites to buy, fix, and stay in their homes. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Homeowners Task Force created an early-response system to help people avoid penalties, delinquencies, and foreclosures by encouraging state COVID assistance funding.13 14
In June 2021, Sarah launched a statewide network called Take Root Wisconsin to improve homeownership, prevent foreclosures, dismantle housing discrimination and inequities, and more.15 According to its website, the network is “a consortium of community organizations, housing counseling agencies, Realtors, lenders, government leaders, and other groups working to promote sustainable homeownership.”16
Sarah worked with Governor Evers to secure $92.7 million for struggling Wisconsinites who are at risk of losing their homes.17 The Wisconsin Help for Homeowners (WHH) program will make a significant difference for countless families across the state to make sure folks have the resources to rebound and recover from the pandemic.
“Once approved by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, WHH will be funded through the federal homeowner assistance fund program established under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.”18
As State Treasurer, Sarah has used her role as the Chair of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands to help strengthen the portfolio of over $1.3 billion in state trust funds, including making over $550 million in new investments over the most recent biennium. These investments include financing for over $165 million in critical projects across Wisconsin through the State Trust Fund Loan Program, ranging from road work and infrastructure, broadband expansion, COVID-19 relief loans for small businesses, to snowplows and fire trucks. By continuing to update the investment strategy and diversify the portfolio, Sarah has helped to provide record distributions from the Common School Fund, providing books and technology for K-12 libraries, and the Normal School Fund, providing grants and scholarships for Wisconsin universities.
Just weeks after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Sarah has used her role as the Chair of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands to release an additional $5.25 million to Wisconsin school districts to aid in virtual learning on top of a record $38.2 million to public school libraries.19
In July 2021, Sarah and the BCPL announced a record-breaking $1 million distribution to the UW System, helping make college more affordable for students and funding key programs.20
Sarah has worked to finance projects that would expand broadband access in rural Eau Claire County, millions of dollars to spur economic development in Racine, and more.21