Wis. league testimony conveys reg. burden, CU difference

February 11, 2015

MADISON, Wis. (2/12/15)--The Wisconsin Credit Union League emphasized the unique structure and benefits of credit unions during an informational hearing by the State Assembly Committee on Financial Institutions Wednesday.

Tom Liebe, league senior vice president of advocacy, cited Wisconsin credit unions' concern over continued regulatory burden as well as changes to regulatory oversight that impedes effective supervision and threatens the dual-chartering system.

Gov. Scott Walker's proposed biennial budget bill would create the Department of Financial Institutions and Professional Standards by combining the Department of Financial Institutions, which houses the Office of Credit Unions, and three other agencies that oversee enterprises such as body piercing and cosmetology.

The top issue for many financial institutions--roughly 350 in Wisconsin--is ensuring the fees they pay to the state be used to maintain a strong examination system with quality examiners instead of being transferred to the general fund.

After the budget was released last week, the league brought up the concern that adding nonfinancial institution related functions to a much larger agency may jeopardize credit union and bank regulators' appropriately narrow focus on ensuring today's complex financial institutions are safe, sound and successfully serving consumers.

Because of their cooperative, not-for-profit structure, credit unions have provided 2.5 million member-owners more than $1 billion in savings since the beginning of the recession, Liebe said in his written testimony to committee members.

Credit unions also provide financial education through counseling, reality fairs and student-run in-school branches, and they have increased small business lending by 94% to support Main Street communities and job creators.

The league has suggested the elimination of redundant financial institutions data matching programs and the creation of a centralized agricultural lien filing system to improve government efficiency.