As state treasurer, I’m proud to have worked for many years to build up the West Virginia Treasury into a respected institution that serves the people of this state.
During my time in office, we have created innovative programs and executed solid money management. As I seek my next term in office, I believe experience matters.
I’m here because I work hard every day to earn the job. In an elected position, voters have the power to reward you with their confidence (as I have been repeatedly humbled by) or they have the power to limit your service (as they did with my opponent, who was not reelected to a second term in the House of Delegates).
The fact is: Experience matters when you’re dealing with finances. We run a bank. We manage billions of dollars in investments.
My opponent has no notable financial or investment experience.
Most people don’t switch bankers every few years, especially when they have good results. Consistent and responsible money management is the path to loyal customers. I’ve played an important role in keeping our state financially secure with a combination of good money management and conservative investment strategies. Over the years, I’ve initiated transfers of more than $163 million in unclaimed funds to help balance state budgets and keep programs solvent.
But I haven’t forgotten that unclaimed money belongs to you. As state treasurer, I’ve returned more than $228 million to rightful owners, and that number continues to grow.
Just last fiscal year, we set a record in the amount of unclaimed property returned to individuals and businesses. Even CBS’s “60 Minutes” took notice when I stood up to big insurance companies in the state’s highest court. I demanded they give back to you what is rightfully yours, and now we are working to return millions in unclaimed life insurance proceeds.
I’ve always stood up for what is right, and that includes supporting law enforcement. My unclaimed property law enforcement program has helped appropriate millions of dollars to police agencies around the state.
That money, which comes from law enforcement property auctions and abandoned cash, has been used to fund everything from essential training to new police equipment.
One of my proudest efforts is creating and growing the state’s SMART529 educational savings program. It’s a $2.7 billion program with approximately 117,000 participants. It’s a versatile program that has allowed thousands of West Virginians to go to trade schools, colleges and other institutions around the nation and graduate with little to no student loan debt. It’s a tax-advantaged plan that can be used for tuition, room, board, books, computers and other qualified educational expenses.
It’s been so successful that my opponent wants to create a program just like it for small-business owners. Unfortunately, he doesn’t realize that federal and state 529 laws don’t allow for his proposal.
I prefer to focus on real ways we can help welders, plumbers and other West Virginians with technical vocations. That’s why I am an avid supporter of high schools in our state implementing early college and STEM associate-degree programs.
In my next term, I plan to build on our many successes, but I also will move the state forward with bold ideas that take experienced leadership. We know technology is the path forward, and I want to commit to real results. That’s why I recently joined a bipartisan effort to increase broadband access in our state.
This year, I also unveiled a new unclaimed-property website and management system that will increase security and make it easier than ever for people to claim and track their unclaimed property. I’ve worked to provide easy online access to state debt information, revenue distributions and short-term investments. I’ve also supported transparency websites that track other areas of government spending in our state.
I want to continue my work toward real change and implement real programs that benefit children, families and small businesses. People deserve someone who is thoughtful, prudent and experienced as their state treasurer. I hope, this election, you agree that experience matters.