National High School Personal Finance Competition to Be in Lincoln in May, Treasurer Stenberg Announces
Lincoln, Neb. (February 22, 2018) – High school students from across the United States will be in Lincoln May 11 to demonstrate their knowledge of economics and personal finance in the Personal Finance Challenge national competition, Nebraska State Treasurer Stenberg announced today at a news conference at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business.
Joining Treasurer Stenberg in making the announcement were Dr. Kathy Farrell, Dean of the College of Business, and Jennifer Davidson, president of the Nebraska Council on Economic Education, an independent, non-profit organization housed in the College of Business. Also attending the news conference was Kirk Kellner of Omaha, regional president of Wells Fargo, the signature corporate sponsor of the May 11 event.
This is the first time the annual competition will be in Lincoln. Activities will take place at the UNL College of Business. Previously the national competition, now in its eighth year, was in St. Louis or Kansas City.
“We are excited that this event will be coming to Lincoln this year,” Stenberg said.
Dean Farrell said the event will be an ideal opportunity to showcase the fine facilities and excellent educational offerings available at the College of Business and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Davidson said she expects students from as many as 25 states to travel to Lincoln to compete.
“Economics and personal finance concepts and tools are skills all students will need to be successful in life,” said Dean Farrell. “Understanding the importance of budgeting and of saving early to capitalize on compound interest truly changes financial outcomes for the future.”
“I am thrilled to partner with the Nebraska State Treasurer’s Office and Wells Fargo to make this event a reality. It has been over a year of conversation and is finally coming to fruition. Financial products are complicated, and more than ever before, people are required to be responsible for their own financial futures and retirement planning. An event like this is an exciting way to bring attention to the importance of personal finance education. To compete and win, students must learn and understand important personal finance topics and think about future financial planning,” Davidson said.
“It is a privilege for Wells Fargo to work with likeminded leaders and organizations in Nebraska to support programs such as the National Personal Finance Challenge,” said Kellner. “Wells Fargo prioritizes financial education, as a means to strengthen communities across our state and nation, providing people with information that will support good financial choices throughout life.”
Stenberg also announced that the National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) has issued a resolution endorsing the National Personal Finance Challenge and encouraging students to prepare, study, and enter the competition. “The future of our national economy, our state economies, and the economic well-being of constituents in member states depends on a well-informed citizenry that understands basic financial and economic concepts and can navigate in an increasingly complex and diverse financial environment,” the resolution said.
“We are also happy to announce that this year the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust will award NEST 529 college savings accounts to winners in the national competition as well as our own state competition,” added Stenberg, Trustee of NEST. “First-place winners in the national competition – like in our state competition – will each receive a $2,000 NEST 529 college savings account. Second-place winners will each receive a $1,000 NEST 529 account, and third-place winners will each receive a $500 NEST 529 account.”
A family does not have to live in Nebraska to open a NEST account, Stenberg said. In fact, there are NEST account owners in every state in the United States. NEST accounts can be used at colleges, community colleges, and technical schools throughout the United States and in many countries abroad.
The teacher of each winning team, both at the state and national levels, will receive an iPad tablet, courtesy the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust.
“The State Treasurer’s relationship with the Council on Economic Education goes back five years to 2013 when my office launched a financial education initiative for high school students. One component was focused on offering an online financial education course to Nebraska schools at no charge to the students or the schools or the taxpayers. The second component was focused on helping exemplary students prepare for college by awarding NEST college savings accounts to winners in the Personal Financial Challenge,” Treasurer Stenberg explained.
“In the end, my goal was to help Nebraskans become aware of our excellent NEST 529 college savings program and to help Nebraska young people become financially responsible adults and contributing members of their communities and their state. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. Assets in our NEST college savings program have grown to $4.8 billion, more than double what assets were when I took office in 2011. The total number of accounts has increased almost 40 percent since 2011. We now have 254,000 accounts nationwide, including 79,000 accounts in Nebraska,” he said
Stenberg said the Treasurer’s online financial education program, developed by EverFi of Washington, D.C., reached almost 10,000 students in 173 schools last school year. The average knowledge gain for high school students – based on pre- and post-testing – was 63 percent. So far this school year, the program has reached more than 7,500 students in 150 schools with more schools committed to using the program before the school year ends.
Spokespeople at the news conference also encouraged Nebraska high school students to get involved in the Personal Finance Challenge. Students must first take individual online tests in their home schools where their scores will be averaged for a team score. Online testing in Nebraska high schools will take place from March 26 to April 9. Teams with the highest combined scores will be invited to the face-to-face competition April 20 at the following locations:
At the face-to-face competition, each team will be given a hypothetical family scenario and asked to come up with a financial plan to be presented to a panel of judges. The first-place team in Nebraska will be chosen based on the face-to-face competition and the online team score. Last year’s winning team in Nebraska was Arthur County High School, which went on to be win third place in the national competition. More information about the Nebraska competition is available at nebraskacouncil.unl.edu.
About the Nebraska Council on Economic Education
The Nebraska Council on Economic Education is a 501 c(3) non-profit organization. It is supported by contributions of private citizens, businesses, civic groups, public agencies, and direct and in-kind support from the Universities that host and sponsor its Centers for Economic Education. Centers are located at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the University of Nebraska at Kearney, Chadron State College, and Wayne State College. The mission is to act as a catalyst and lead a statewide initiative to advance economic and financial literacy. For more information, visit nebraskacouncil.unl.edu.
About NEST 529
The Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST 529) is a tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan and provides four plans to help make saving for college simple and affordable: NEST Direct College Savings Plan, the NEST Advisor College Savings Plan, the TD Ameritrade 529 College Savings Plan, and the State Farm College Savings Plan. The Nebraska State Treasurer serves as Program Trustee. First National Bank of Omaha serves as Program Manager, and all investments are approved by the Nebraska Investment Council. Families nationwide are saving for college using Nebraska’s 529 College Savings Plans, which have more than 254,000 accounts, including 79,000 in Nebraska. Visit NEST529.com and treasurer.nebraska.gov for more information.
States have used advance refunding bonds to refinance debt. Their tax-exempt status was nixed as part of last year’s tax rewrite.
State treasurers are pushing Congress to reinstate a municipal bond tax exemption that was scotched as part of last year’s tax overhaul.
The federal income tax exemption applied to interest earned on what are known as “advance refunding” bonds. These bonds are a refinancing tool that state and local governments have commonly used in the past to lower borrowing costs and restructure debt.
In a letter sent Wednesday to leaders in the Senate and House, the National Association of State Treasurers said reviving the exemption would help to achieve the goals outlined in an infrastructure investment plan that President Trump is pushing for.
“Advance refunding bonds save money for taxpayers and free up money for additional infrastructure projects, by allowing state and local issuers to refinance bonds at a lower interest rate,” they wrote.
“As experts on infrastructure financing, we believe that reinstating the tax-exempt status of these bonds will be critical for state and local governments to properly execute any infrastructure proposal.”
State and local governments finance over 75 percent of all U.S. infrastructure projects, and last year more than $100 billion in advance refunding bonds were issued, according to the letter…
Pennsylvania portal offers ‘unprecedented’ view of state spending
The transparency project has entered its third phase, in which detailed analysis and data exporting features are now going live.
After its first year of service, Pennsylvania’s financial transparency portal has received its third major update, a phase of the project that drills down into state’s spending with the most current data available.
Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella said last week that the portal, which originally launched last year, has begun offering a new feature that allows residents to see and evaluate 10 years’ worth of spending and revenue trend lines. The upgrade also includes the ability to generate historical cash balances by fund name and view more specific expenditure categories from every fund, department and appropriation.
The upgrade is the third phase of the site’s development plan to create an interactive reference guide for residents, researchers and state policymakers.
For instance, a quick look at state police appropriations shows the agency was allotted $11.8 million in 2017 for patrol vehicles, a figure that is about a $6.7 million decline from the previous year.
“Pennsylvanians should know — in real-time — how, when, and where their hard-earned tax dollars are being spent,” Torsella said in a statement. “Each phase of the Transparency Portal lets taxpayers have a deeper look into the books, but I will not be satisfied until we have created an infrastructure that brings complete fiscal transparency and accountability to state government.”
A spokesperson for the Treasurer’s Office said that the new features are already in the planning stages, and while the updates may vary, each will increase the level of details and improve the accessibility of data for residents.
One of the most critical components in this recent update is the ability to export data. Users can download the data as visualizations in common image formats or export CSV or Excel files.
The portal has advanced rapidly since Torsella launched it shortly after taking office. The first phase offered just the ability to see the latest general fund balance, and the second phase opened access to three years’ worth of data on expenditures and credit.
In his statement, Torsella said the development of the transparency site is vital to make state finances understandable for average residents, and in turn, enable proper public input.
“Pennsylvanians should hold their government accountable and ensure that it’s working for them,” Torsella said. “The Transparency Portal provides the unprecedented access and tools necessary to do just that.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) called on Members of Congress to expand the use of tax-exempt debt to meet future financing thresholds in response to President Donald Trump’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure proposal.
NAST President and Vermont State Treasurer Beth Pearce said, “State and local governments finance more than 75 percent of all U.S. infrastructure projects, and while we are pleased to see that the proposal recognizes the importance of partnering with state and local governments, policymakers must ensure we have access to the funding mechanisms needed to execute this robust plan. As the House and Senate develop legislation, we urge lawmakers to expand the use of tax-exempt debt to ensure state and local governments can maximize their ability to support critically needed infrastructure enhancement.”
Developed during NAST’s 2018 Legislative Conference yesterday in Washington D.C., state treasurers outlined the following three principles to guide federal policymakers as they consider the administration’s infrastructure proposal:
“State treasurers are experts on infrastructure finance, and we must ensure that this plan is implemented using smart strategies that optimize the use of public funds,” said NAST Senior Vice President and Utah State Treasurer David Damschen. “We welcome the expansion of private activity bonds in the President’s infrastructure proposal, and we urge lawmakers to build on this by providing state treasurers with access to the diverse funding mechanisms needed to expedite these important investments. We look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to advance these critical goals.”
Treasurer Damschen explained that tax-exempt advance refunding bonds helped save Utah taxpayers more than $105 million over the past five years alone by allowing the state to refinance bonds at lower interest rates. Last year, states issued more than $100 billion in advance refunding bonds. This refinancing tool was a common practice in states and allowed them to save hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars per year, which could be reinvested in vital infrastructure projects. Unfortunately, the recent federal tax reform law eliminated the tax-exempt status of advance refunding bonds.
During a panel discussion this morning at NAST’s 2018 Legislative Conference, U.S. Representative Randy Hultgren (R-IL) announced that he and U.S. Representative Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), both Co-Chairs of the Municipal Finance Caucus, introduced legislation today to restore the tax exemption for advance refunding bonds that was repealed in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
“States and local governments need flexibility for managing their finances so they can invest in infrastructure like roads, bridges, hospital, libraries and schools to support our communities,” said Rep. Hultgren. “In recent years, tax-exempt advance refunding bonds have saved Illinois taxpayers $80 million per year on average. Given that interest rates are expected to increase, this tool is especially important to states and local governments responsibly planning for the future.”
To learn more about NAST’s federal policies, or about infrastructure spending, click here.
West Virginia State Treasurer John Perdue, with honored guest Governor Jim Justice, announced the launch of a new savings program today at the State Capitol. The West Virginia Achieving a Better Life Experience program, known as WVABLE, will provide people with disabilities an opportunity to save and invest without jeopardizing needs-based public benefits.
“I’m excited this type of savings program is now available to those who need it most here in West Virginia,” said Treasurer Perdue. “This is an important step toward empowering more individuals in our state to plan for their financial future.”
WVABLE helps individuals with disabilities put aside money for qualified expenses, such as rent, transportation, education and training. Individuals may save up to $15,000 per year in a WVABLE account, with earnings accumulating tax-free. Individuals must have developed the disability before the age of 26 to qualify.
“This WVABLE plan will allow me to have more control of my life with the day-to-day freedom to take care of medical emergencies and unexpected home repairs,” said Kevin Smith, one of the first people to sign up for the plan. “The difference between me and others in the community is that they can save for those emergencies, but I have and I have always had to watch the balance of my bank account due to income limits because I receive SSI and Medicaid.”
Prior to passage of the ABLE Act, individuals receiving government benefits were restricted in the amount of money they could save or invest without losing public benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid. Before, financial resources in excess of $2,000 in savings could result in the loss of benefits.
“As a parent of a child with a developmental disability, I can tell you that rolling out the WVABLE program has eased my mind,” said Christina Smith, executive director of The Arc of West Virginia.
“We are thrilled that it is finally available in West Virginia, and I am personally excited that my daughter will now have access to a resource that will enable her to achieve more independence, financial security, and an overall better quality of life,” she added.
A WVABLE account will come with a loadable debit card and have features similar to a checking account, but it is also an investment account similar to a 529 college savings account or 401(k) retirement fund.
“The reason it will be good for the younger generation to have access to this plan is because families could put money in their account for their future and when they get older and are facing the same challenges I am, they will already have money put aside to take care of them,” said Kevin Smith. WVABLE is administered by the West Virginia State Treasurer’s Office through a partnership with the Ohio Treasurer’s Office STABLE program.
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The Maryland State Treasurer’s Office, the issuer of this Request for Proposals, is requesting proposals to select a broker to market, manage and service insurance policies and related documents for insurance coverages of (1) aviation exposures and (2) transit exposures for the State of Maryland.
Proposals are due by 2:00 p.m. on March 6 2018.
NAST has signed a letter in response to Moody’s Investor Service, Inc. request for comments on the proposed revisions to their U.S. States Rating Methodology. The letter expresses concerns with the proposed criteria related to the inclusion of U.S. territories in the proposed new criteria and the proposed adjustment of the weights for three of the four factors used in their analysis.
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Association of State Treasurers urge the President and the Congress of the United States to pass the ABLE Age Adjustment Act, HR1874/S817, (or substantially similar bills in subsequent Congresses) and the other ABLE plan enhancements described above in a timely manner to enhance and expand opportunities for individuals with disabilities and their families to save for their future needs in ABLE programs.