TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly on Thursday named Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers as Kansas’ next state treasurer, and he said he hopes to expand state programs designed to help farmers and prospective homeowners obtain low-interest loans.
The Democratic governor cited her 2018 running mate’s nearly 40-year career in banking as a key reason to appoint him treasurer. The office will become vacant Jan. 2, when Republican State Treasurer Jake LaTurner steps down to take the eastern Kansas seat in the U.S. House, which LaTurner won in November.
The treasurer, elected statewide, is the chief custodian of state funds, serves on the board of the pension system for teachers and government workers, and oversees a college savings program and one for families of people with disabilities. The treasurer also returns unclaimed property left with banks and other businesses to its owners, and the office has programs that make state funds available to banks so they can make low-interest loans to farmers and for home mortgages.
Rogers, 62, will be the third treasurer in less than four years. Republican Ron Estes stepped down in 2017 after winning the state’s Wichita-area congressional seat; LaTurner was his appointed replacement and won a full, four-year term in 2018. Rogers said he will seek a full, four-year term in 2022.
"I didn’t want to give him up, but when you have the best-qualified candidate, you know, across the hall, it was a little hard to sort of not even be true to myself to appoint the most qualified person," Kelly said during a Statehouse news conference.
Rogers must give up the lieutenant governor’s office, and Kelly said she plans to fill that vacancy Monday.
Most of Rogers’ banking career was spent in agricultural lending. He retired after winning a Kansas Senate seat in 2016. He also served on the Wichita school board for 16 years.
Rogers said the treasurer’s home-mortgage loan program is little used because lenders’ interests rates are low now, and he wants to explore extending the program to loans for home renovations. He also hopes to expand the farmers’ loan program.
Kelly’s choices to fill vacant statewide offices aren’t subject to review by the Republican-controlled Legislature. A governor doesn’t have to pick someone of the same party as the departing official — something that has irked Republicans.
The Kansas Republican Party tweeted that Rogers’ appointment was "a partisan attack on democracy" because voters elected a GOP treasurer in 2018. Kelly said voters also elected Rogers lieutenant governor and they can weigh in again on him in two years.