As your State Treasurer, I am working to get Kentucky's financial house in order. We’ve done the “impossible” by creating new programs at no additional cost to our taxpayers, and as I seek my second term in office, I look forward to building on these successes for the benefit of all Kentuckians.
I have used the Office of Kentucky State Treasurer to do what the Constitution intended – to be a check and balance on spending in order to protect the financial stability of the Commonwealth, as well as to maintain a commitment to transparency. Because when it comes to transparency in government, we need to be pushing for it all the time.
In 2016, our office worked to launch a new online database – transparency.ky.gov – at no additional cost to taxpayers. This website made the spending, salaries, contracts, and property of Kentucky’s executive and judicial branches easily accessible to show Kentuckians where their money goes. Due to this increased transparency, Kentucky’s national transparency ranking jumped up 14 spots, pushing us into the top 10 states. My long-term goal for this database is to include information from school systems and local governments.
Financial literacy is the ability to manage your money successfully. In Kentucky, few young people today know how to manage their personal finances. In 2018, I was very pleased to support HB 132, which will require high school students take a course in financial literacy before their graduation.
My office launched our Financial Empowerment Database at the same time. This database is a first-of-its-kind resource that made over 100 financial literacy resources easily accessible for educators implementing HB 132. We hope to continue to empower our educators who work with our students, and to also provide financial literacy resources for other groups including emerging adults, aging Kentuckians, Commonwealth employees, Kentuckians with disabilities, low-income families, and veterans and military personnel.
This year, HB 139, a legislative priority of mine was signed into law. The law establishes the Kentucky Financial Empowerment Commission. The Commission will be funded without use of taxpayer dollars thanks to a partnership I secured with Kentucky credit unions and will work to develop and implement plans to improve the financial empowerment of Kentuckians.
The strides I have made to improve financial literacy in Kentucky led to me being named the Chair of the National Association of State Treasurer’s Financial Education and Empowerment Committee.
FINANCIALLY EMPOWERING KENTUCKIANS WITH DISABILITIES
Kentuckians with disabilities have been a segment of our population that have not easily been able to save money.
Prior to the enactment of the Federal ABLE Act and its implementation in Kentucky via STABLE Kentucky, Kentuckians with disabilities could only save $2,000 at a time without losing important benefits they rely on.
STABLE Kentucky is a savings and investment program that allows Kentuckians with a disability to save up to $15,000 annually without endangering benefits. I implemented this program (which cost other states millions of dollars) at no cost to Kentucky taxpayers by creatively working with the Ohio Treasurer’s office. The funds are tax-free at the federal level, and thanks to a law that I championed in Kentucky, the funds are now tax-free at the state level, too. Friends and family members can contribute to an individual’s STABLE Kentucky account, as well.
PUT MONEY BACK IN TAXPAYER POCKETS
I will continue to push for taxpayer protections, including stopping fraud attempts in their tracks. In 2018, our treasury stopped over $5 million in fraud attempts on the Commonwealth before Christmas, an act that gained national media attention. But there are also other ways that the treasury regularly returns money back to our taxpayers.
Long before my time in office, our treasury was tasked with overseeing Kentucky’s unclaimed properties. Upon taking office in 2016, I eliminated a 90-day backlog in unclaimed property claims. I have also worked to modernize unclaimed property laws to make reporting and claiming unclaimed property easier for businesses and individuals.
During my time in office, Treasury has returned over $73 million to Kentuckians. . That is more than any other Treasurer in Kentucky history in a three-year period. Using the Kentucky treasury website – treasury.ky.gov – anyone can search to find out whether they or their loved ones may have property waiting to be claimed.
COMMON-SENSE ECONOMIC PRINCIPLES
I have always believed that free enterprise provides the best way to promote job creation and personal opportunity. Free enterprise is the foundation of American success. I will continue to use this office to be an advocate for conservative economic principles – principles that include free enterprise, limited government, and personal liberty.
I am a proud member of the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF), a group of state financial officers from across the country that believes in free market principles and fiscally responsible public policies, and I am honored to have been selected by my peers to serve as National Chair of SFOF.