FRANKFORT -- For years, Republican state Sen. Damon Thayer of Georgetown tried unsuccessfully to get rid of the office of Kentucky treasurer.
"I think it's pretty difficult to suggest that office provides much value to the taxpayers," Thayer said in 2014, a year after he became Senate majority floor leader. He blamed the Democratic-controlled House for blocking his legislation.
In 2016, Republicans took control of the state House and Republican Allison Ball in 2015 wrested the office of state treasurer from Democrats for the first time since 1948.
Now, with Republicans in control of the governor's office, the two legislative chambers and most constitutional offices, Thayer still thinks the treasurer's office should become history and its duties absorbed into the state Finance and Administration Cabinet in the executive branch.
"It's still an unnecessary office but I believe Allison Ball has done a wonderful job, making it more relevant to Kentuckians through more transparency and improving financial literacy," he said.
Ball, a 37-year-old lawyer from Prestonsburg, said she has no interest in abolishing the office and thinks she has demonstrated how a strong treasurer can reinvigorate the office and make it work for all Kentuckians.
Ball is unopposed in this year's Republican primary election on May 21 in her bid for a second four-year term. In the general election on Nov. 5, she will face the winner of this spring's Democratic primary election -- either Michael Bowman of Louisville or Josh Mers of Lexington.
Bowman, a branch manager for US Bank in Louisville, and Mers, who owns a small insurance and financial service in Lexington, agree with Ball that the state treasurer's office should not be eliminated.
"It's accountable to the people," said Bowman, 36. "If you moved its duties to the executive branch, it would be accountable to the governor and not to the people."
"We've had some less than desirable treasurers but the office is important," said Mers, 37.
Duties of the state treasurer, under the law, include heading the state treasury, managing the state's depository, making records of all monies due and payable to the state, processing warrants from the Finance and Administration Cabinet, making payments on behalf of the state, overseeing unclaimed property and filing an annual report on all state money.
The treasurer also sits on several boards and commissions as an ex officio member, including State Investment Commission, Teachers' Retirement Systems, Kentucky Lottery Board, Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority and Kentucky Lottery Board.
The office has an annual budget of slightly more than $4 million and it has 27 employees.
The position of state treasurer exists in 48 states; it is elected in 36 and appointed in 12.
In 2017, state treasurer salaries in the nation ranged from $195,972 in Tennessee to $68,500 in Colorado. Kentucky's treasurer is paid $124,113 a year.
Kentucky voters last eliminated a constitutional office in 2000, when they voted to eliminate the office of railroad commissioner.