May 21st, 2014 | by WWeek Staff News | Posted In: Politics

Treasurer Ted Wheeler Talks About Running for Governor

news2_4029(wheeler)COLLEGE ON CREDIT: “There is always financial risk,” State Treasurer Ted Wheeler says of his plan to have the state borrow money to pay for college scholarships. He says Oregon’s investment history reduces that risk “pretty close to zero.” - IMAGE: WW Staff

When incumbent Gov. John Kitzhaber last year took a very long time deciding to run for an historic fourth term, the odds-on favorite to step to the front of the line as likely Democratic nominee was State Treasurer Ted Wheeler.

Of course, Kitzhaber did finally decide to run again, announcing his candidacy on Dec. 9, 2013. That meant Wheeler and other potential successors, such as Secretary of State Kate Brown and Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, would have to wait until 2018.

Last week, Wheeler stopped by WW's offices to discuss his Opportunity Initiative, a legislative referral that will be on the November ballot. Wheeler is asking voters to amend the constitution to allow the state to borrow money to create an endowment, the earnings from which would fund scholarships and grants for needy students. 

It's a bold idea—no other state is currently employing such a mechanism—and one that will allow the low-key treasurer to raise his profile statewide, while addressing two undeniable facts: Oregon's public universities charge relatively high tuition, and the state's current financial aid offerings are among the thinnest in the nation.

Amid a broader discussion of the risks and benefits of Wheeler's proposal, we asked him if he'd like to be governor some day.

Here's his response:



 
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