On Wednesday, WBA’s Jon Turke and Jeff Gruetzmacher, senior vice president at Royal Bank, Elroy, testified before the Legislative Council Study Committee on the Investment and Use of the School Trust Funds. The Study Committee is directed to review the statutes governing the investment of the trust funds administered by the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL), including the loan programs administered by BCPL. The Study Committee shall assess whether current statutes adequately ensure the effective investment and appropriate use of the proceeds of the funds, and recommend legislation for necessary changes.

WBA argued that while sometimes government is necessary to provide credit where the private sector won’t or can’t, it should not directly compete with our institutions for municipal business. We were one of several groups who requested a study committee on this issue. WBA asked that this committee look at all state loan programs and evaluate their need and usefulness in 2018. At our last count, there are approximately 40 statutory references that allow the state to create lending programs. Given the intense competition in the banking industry and the rise of emerging technologies, it is time for the state to take a closer look at the intersection of public and private responsibilities for lending.

Wisconsin Banks of all sizes from around the state have a long history of active involvement in our communities. Since they’re dedicated to their community, these local institutions often come together and support special causes. Whether it’s monetary donations to a local non-profit, employee “day of volunteering” at a local shelter, or a special campaign to raise money for schools and scholarships, local banks have a strong sense of commitment to the community. Another way they can help is by providing loans to the community.

The fortunes of local financial institutions are intimately tied to the fortunes of their local communities. The more the community prospers, the more the bank benefits, and the healthier the bank is, the better off the community is. This is why local banks are involved in their communities and want to do business with their schools and municipalities.

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The committee is chaired by Representative Terry Katsma (R-Oostburg). Also sitting on the committee is WBA member Steve Eager – president and CEO of Union Bank & Trust Company, Evansville (pictured at the hearing, above).

Once posted, you can view the testimony here.