WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) congratulated Rhode Island State Treasurer Seth Magaziner today for receiving the Council for Economic Education’s 2017 William A. Forbes Public Awareness Award. He currently serves as the Chairman of NAST’s Financial Education and Empowerment Committee, and received the award for his work to advance financial literacy initiatives throughout the country.
In a statement, NAST’s President and Oklahoma State Treasurer Ken Miller said, “Throughout his tenure as NAST’s Financial Education and Empowerment Chairman, Treasurer Magaziner has advanced innovative strategies that improve the financial literacy of residents in his home state of Rhode Island and beyond. His leadership during our recent Treasury Management Symposium provided state treasurers, staff, and hundreds of corporate affiliate members with important insights on the latest programs and strategies that effectively improve the financial education of countless communities. On behalf of the entire organization, I congratulate him for receiving this much-deserved award.”
The Council for Economic Education presented Treasurer Magaziner with the award during the 56th Annual Financial Literacy and Economic Education Conference last week in New York. The award was made possible by the Calvin K. Kazanjian Economics Foundation. In his lifetime, Calvin K. Kazanjian was an ardent supporter of economic literacy programs. Fittingly, entrepreneur William Forbes, for whom this award is named, helped catapult Mr. Kazanjian’s small confectionary company—Peter Paul Almond Joy—into an industry leader.
For more information on NAST’s Financial Literacy efforts please view our Financial Education and Empowerment committee page.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) today announced it has appointed Shaun Snyder as executive director. Snyder will join the 41-year-old association on October 16, 2017.
NAST President and Oklahoma State Treasurer Ken Miller said, “After a nationwide search, I am pleased to welcome Shaun to our bipartisan association. His strong leadership abilities and proven track record will serve NAST well as we continue to expand our impact to better serve our citizens.”
The NAST Executive Committee chose Snyder following an intensive nationwide search. His job responsibilities will include managing and overseeing all association activities, including membership services, government affairs, corporate partnerships, media outreach and conference planning. He will also direct the staff, operations, and initiatives at the association.
“State treasurers are on the frontline of solving some of our country’s toughest fiscal challenges—from financing much needed infrastructure projects to helping individuals save for the rising cost of college or retirement,” said Snyder. “NAST plays a crucial role in helping state treasurers address these issues by developing best practices and promoting sound fiscal policies, so I look forward to joining this bipartisan association to build on this goal.”
Currently, Snyder serves as the Chief Operating Officer for the American Psychiatric Association, where he is responsible for working with each of the organization’s departments to ensure the association meets strategic objectives in an efficient and effective manner. Prior to joining the American Psychiatric Association, Snyder served in the same role for the Department of Health of the District of Columbia, and has served as Special Assistant to the General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Snyder was born in California and spent his childhood in a number of states, including California, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Maryland. He received his undergraduate degree in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland, his law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center, and his MBA from The George Washington University. He is licensed to practice law in Maryland and the District of Columbia.
South Carolina’s Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan reached a major program milestone by exceeding $3 billion in total assets under management.
June 2017 also marked the best June sales month in the 15-year history of the plan.
“We have worked to make Future Scholar one of the best college savings plans in the nation, and exceeding $3 billion in total assets reflects that effort,” State Treasurer Curtis Loftis said. His office administers the program.
“This milestone also demonstrates that more parents than ever understand the importance of investing for their child’s college education, and they are choosing Future Scholar to reach those college investing goals,” he said.
This year Future Scholar is celebrating its 15-year anniversary. Among the growth highlights:
• Total number of accounts has increased from 9,800 to over 134,000.
• Average account size has risen from $8,233 to $20,222.
• Contributions into the plan from South Carolinians have increased 28 percent over the previous year.
Residents of The T&D Region have taken advantage of the savings plan.
As of June 30, 2017:
• Orangeburg County has $8,488,080 in assets in 543 accounts.
• Calhoun County has $2,321,167 in assets in 99 accounts.
• Bamberg County has $1,608,972 in assets in 61 accounts.
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Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs was in Effingham and Shelby counties recently as part of a larger tour of area communities as he publicized his office’s latest initiatives.
One of those programs, iCash, seeks to pair residents and businesses in Illinois with lost property. Last year, Frerichs says his office hit an all-time high when it came to returning unclaimed property.
“We returned over $155 million,” said Frerichs. “So at a time when the state is not paying its bills, the state isn’t honoring its contracts, the treasurer’s office was writing checks because we think it’s important to get money into the economy.”
Another initiative, the Illinois College Savings program, helps families plan for and prepare children for college-related expenses. Frerichs says since taking office, he has negotiated a drop in the fees charged to participants through one of the state’s two savings plans.
“We cut fees that families were paying on college savings accounts by half,” explained the state treasurer. “Actually, more than half, a 57 percent drop in fees. And what happened when we did that? Morningstar rating service gave us a rating upgrade.”
Following the upgrade, Illinois’ Bright Directions savings program was elevated to one of the top two adviser-sold savings programs in the country.
Since coming into office, Frerichs has also worked on making sure life insurance benefits — more than half a billion dollars worth — are paid out.
“I came in and discovered that life insurance companies that sold policies to people, they died and they never paid out the benefits,” explained Frerichs. “So I think, when that person who had a policy in place dies that money no longer belongs to the insurance company, it belongs to their loved ones. The insurance companies said, ‘No, no. We hold onto it until they come and ask for it.’”
Arising from his audits of two dozen life insurance companies, House Bill 0302 was presented and passed both chambers. The bill would force life Insurance companies to notify beneficiaries going back to 2000 of unpaid benefits and awaits the governor’s signature.
Frerichs was elected as state treasurer in November 2014 after having served as state senator for District 52, which included parts of Champaign and Vermilion counties. Reflecting on his time spent in the General Assembly, Frerichs said the chamber has certainly changed…
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Selection from Michael Laris at the Washington Post. View Full Story
The Trump administration, determined to overhaul and modernize the nation’s infrastructure, is drafting plans to privatize some public assets such as airports, bridges, highway rest stops and other facilities, according to top officials and advisers.
In his proposed budget released Tuesday, President Trump called for spending $200 billion over 10 years to “incentivize” private, state and local spending on infrastructure.
Trump advisers said that to entice state and local governments to sell some of their assets, the administration is considering paying them a bonus. The proceeds of the sales would then go to other infrastructure projects. Australia has pursued a similar policy, which it calls “asset recycling,” prompting the 99-year lease of a state-owned electrical grid to pay for improvements to the Sydney Metro, among other projects.
In the United States, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) explored privatizing Midway International Airport several years ago but dropped the idea in 2013, after a key bidder backed away. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao says such projects should be encouraged.
What’s in Trump’s proposed transportation budget
“You take the proceeds from the airport, from the sale of a government asset, and put it into financing infrastructure,” Chao said. St. Louis is working with federal officials to try to privatize Lambert International Airport, she said.
Officials are crafting Trump’s initiative, and he has yet to decide which ideas will make the final cut. But two driving themes are clear: Government practices are stalling the nation’s progress; and private companies should fund, build and run more of the basic infrastructure of American life.
A far-reaching proposal from the Trump administration earlier this year to take the nation’s air-traffic control system out of government hands was fueled, in part, by frustration at sluggish efforts to modernize technology.
To speed up infrastructure projects, officials are preparing to overhaul the federal environmental review and permitting system, which they blame for costly delays. Trump asked advisers whether they could collapse that process, which he said takes at least 10 years, down to four months. “But we’ll be satisfied with a year,” Trump said. “It won’t be more than a year.”
In a bid for broader support, Trump and some of his advisers have also signaled an openness to raising the gas tax to pay for needed projects. The 18.4-cent-per-gallon levy is the federal government’s main source of highway funds and was last raised in 1993.
The infrastructure initiative is being shaped by White House officials and a task force representing 16 federal departments and agencies. In addition, there is a committee of outside advisers co-chaired by billionaire developer Richard LeFrak, a Trump friend.
LeFrak said the administration’s effort, which is being led by Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, Chao and others, is a sweeping attempt to rethink how infrastructure gets built. LeFrak said the issues are intensely personal for Trump, who spent his career in real estate and sees this as an area where he can make a lasting impact.
At a recent White House event, President Trump stood alongside one of his top infrastructure aides, DJ Gribbin, who held up a 7-foot-long flow chart illustrating the highway permitting process. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
“He does think he’s the president to rebuild America. He’s a builder. It’s just logical,” LeFrak said. “He’s highly enthusiastic about this idea and getting it done.”
Critics said Trump and his advisers are putting ideology ahead of the national interest and oversimplifying how the process works.
Public stewards should not be “trying to figure out how to extract maximum value” by selling off government assets or “making huge, multibillion-dollar wagers” that span decades, said Kevin DeGood, director of infrastructure policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal advocacy group. “Building infrastructure faster and without adequate study or time for community input may be good for developers, but it’s lousy for everyone else.”
Still, there are bipartisan concerns that important projects have been stymied by politics and bureaucracy, and that Washington has been unwilling to allocate the money for needed improvements. A civil-engineering group in March tallied a “$2 trillion, 10-year investment gap” in the nation’s roads, transit systems, bridges, water systems, power grids, parks, ports and schools.
In February, Trump told Congress that he would seek legislation “that produces a $1 trillion investment” in infrastructure and creates “millions of new jobs.” Officials have since said that the plan will probably include $200 billion in direct federal funds, which would be used to “leverage” the larger figure over a decade. LeFrak sees the chance for a deal, noting that Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) also “wants a trillion-dollar program.”
“So you’ve already got two important people — one very, very important person and one very important person — both from different sides of the aisle, who come in favor of this,” LeFrak said.
But on Tuesday, when Trump’s budget proposal was released, Schumer condemned the president’s “180-degree turn away from his repeated promise of a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan,” saying the budget contains deep cuts in spending on roads, transit projects, public housing and more.
“The fuzzy math and sleight of hand can’t hide the fact that the President’s $200 billion plan is more than wiped out by other cuts to key infrastructure programs,” Schumer said in a statement.
Trump administration officials disputed Schumer’s calculations, saying they included budget items that should not be considered cuts. They cited a projected “drop-off” in federal highway funds that could be eliminated as part of the broader infrastructure agreement.
The budget places a heavy emphasis on market solutions, such as making it easier for states to toll interstates, saying that the federal government has become “a complicated, costly middleman.” The budget also talks about leasing vacant space in Veterans Affairs facilities and selling off major power facilities as ways of “disposing underused capital assets.”
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Readers continue to write to us with questions about financing college, including how best to use “529” plans, the tax-advantaged higher-education accounts that invest in mutual funds. We asked experts to help answer this month’s questions. An excerpt from Treasurer Boozer’s interview is below…
I would like to reward employees by starting 529 accounts for their children that will vest after 10 years of the parents’ employment at our company. Is this possible?
Yes. Because a 529 is funded with after-tax money, the main advantage of a workplace payroll-deduction 529 account is convenience for the employee.
In terms of vesting, you are allowed to set any restrictions you wish on a workplace plan as long as you follow the IRS rules regarding 529 accounts, says Alabama State Treasurer Young Boozer III, who chairs the College Savings Plans Network.
“Employers may contribute a match or add additional funds, but the employee will be taxed on these amounts, which are considered income to the employee, unless the employer makes arrangements to pick up the IRS tab,” Adam says. Some states, including Nevada, give tax credits to employers who offer 529 plans and match employee contributions, she says.
Before launching your program, call the 529 plan administered by the state where your company is based to see if there are any other state incentives that could benefit your employees, Boozer says.
When paying my child’s tuition, I first paid the college myself and had our 529 plan reimburse me. Then I read that I should instead have the check sent in my child’s name, so when I made a withdrawal from another one of our 529 plans, I did that. Will this affect our taxes?
You are allowed to have the check made out in either name, so you have done nothing wrong. “Essentially, the tax consequences, if any, are applicable to the payee of the check, as they received the 1099,” Boozer says. If you used the withdrawal for qualified educational expenses—tuition, books, mandatory fees, room and board, computers and related costs—you won’t have to pay any taxes. If the money went toward something else, you’ll have to pay taxes on any gains, plus a 10% penalty (you won’t owe anything on the portion of your withdrawal that represents your contributions to the account).
“One caveat: If at any point you do end up with a taxable 529 distribution, either because you withdrew too much, or withdrew the wrong year, or withdrew funds to cover nonqualified expenses, it is usually beneficial tax-wise to have that withdrawal reported to the student, who’s probably in a lower tax bracket, rather than to the parent,” Adam says.
As I understand it, computers are only allowed as a 529 expense if the computer is listed as a requirement by the college. Is that correct?
No. As of Jan. 1, 2015, you can use 529 money to buy computers and related equipment even if the school doesn’t require it. What’s now covered: the purchase of any computer technology such as laptops, desktops and even iPads, related peripheral equipment such as printers, computer software used primarily for educational purposes, and related services such as internet access if used by the beneficiary of the 529 plan during any of the years the beneficiary is enrolled at an eligible educational institution, Adam says. Adam recommends keeping your receipts in case the IRS asks about them, and matching your 529 withdrawals to the same year you bought the computer equipment.
VIEW FULL STORY: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/does-it-pay-to-start-at-a-community-college-it-depends-2017-04-20
As a part of Financial Literacy month, the Financial Education & Empowerment Committee has been compiling updates to our Financial Education Census where we have information about each states’ financial education programs. The updated document is now available on our website on the Financial Education section under the Affiliates & Networks tab. We hope you will use this as a resource in advancing financial education in your state!
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On Wednesday, Eric Schmitt made his first stop in Sedalia since being sworn in as Missouri Treasurer last month to help more Missourians learn about investment accounts.
Schmitt was visiting Sedalia to meet with Sierra Bullets President Pat Daly as the company has announced a new employee benefit related to MOST 529 college savings accounts, which the Missouri treasurer oversees.
Schmitt told both Daly and the Democrat that MOST 529 and the ABLE program are a “primary focus for our administration.”
“We’re being very deliberate about getting out and promoting the things that we do, especially the 529 and ABLE stuff, we want to make people aware of it,” Schmitt told the Democrat after his visit. “We want to increase the number of accounts that are open on the 529 MOST side, but make people aware — it’s amazing the number of places I talk about ABLE accounts and no one’s heard of that.”
A 529 college saving plan is a type of investment account citizens can use for higher-education savings, usually sponsored by a state, according to MissouriMOST.org.
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“A bipartisan bill has been introduced in the House to make it easier to save money in 529 college savings plans and accounts aimed at helping families with special needs children.
HR 529, sponsored by Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., and Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wisc., would encourage companies to help employees start up either of these accounts and contribute to the plans by offering businesses tax incentives to do so. It also would remove limits on the number of times per year investments in the accounts can be changed, which currently stands at twice a year.
Funds saved in 529 college savings plans, which are named after the Internal Revenue Service code that created them, could be used to pay back student loans or be donated to charity without tax consequences, under the proposed bill.”
LOS ANGELES – Treasurer John Chiang announced today that his office has become the first in the nation to offer gift cards – a popular stocking stuffer used by nearly 93 percent of American consumers – as a way of helping Californians give the gift of college.
The cards are arriving in 96 Toys “R” Us stores across California just in time for the holidays. Treasurer Chiang forged the partnership with the largest standalone toy store chain in the world to offer the pioneering new product. The cards will also be available at Babies “R” Us, an affiliate of Toys “R” Us, which offers an assortment of products for newborns, infants, and toddlers.
“There is no more time-tested solution to poverty, crime, or income inequality than to make college education an affordable possibility for every child who seeks one,” said Chiang. “Faced with skyrocketing tuition, we must empower Californians to save, invest, and plan for their children’s futures.”
By using a familiar product in an innovative way, never before has it been this easy for relatives, friends, or even a parent’s employer, to help kids save for college.
Saving for college is critical, state educators agree.
“The University of California and the State are doing all they can to ensure that a college education is affordable through financial aid programs, but saving for your child’s education is a prudent financial decision,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. “Saving for future education expenses through 529 college saving programs like ScholarShare is an essential part of preparing our future generation of students.”
“One of the best ways a parent, grandparent, friend, or relative can help children achieve their college dreams is to begin saving early for college expenses,” agreed State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.
“Opening or contributing to a 529 ScholarShare account for a child is a great way to do that because earnings from funds in the account are not taxed if the money is spent on college expenses.”
The gift cards allow families and friends to contribute to college savings accounts with California’s highly-rated Scholarshare 529 plan in three easy steps:
- Parents or guardians register the child, linking an existing or new ScholarShare 529 plan.
- Friends and family can then contribute by purchasing physical or digital gift cards at any California-based Toys “R” Us or Babies “R” Us retail store or online at www.scholarshare.com * The gift cards can then be redeemed at ScholarShare.com/redeem and GiftofCollege.com, where funds are then transferred directly to the recipients’ plan.
A recent study by the Journal of Children and Poverty, concluded that kids with savings accounts in their names are seven times more likely to attend college than children without such accounts.
“Thanks to our Toys “R” Us partnership California families now have an easy and convenient way to build a college nest egg and a realistic path to helping their children earn a college degree without saddling them with crippling debt,” Chiang said.
About the ScholarShare 529 College Savings Plan
Named for the section of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) code under which they were created, 529 plans offer valuable tax advantages. Contributions are made with money that has already been taxed. Once funds are placed in the account, investment earnings, if any, are not federally or state taxed, if withdrawn to pay for qualified higher education expenses.
California’s 529 plan is called ScholarShare. Accounts may be opened with as little as $25. ScholarShare has no annual account maintenance fee, no income limit and offers a high maximum account balance.
ScholarShare, which is governed by a board chaired by Treasurer John Chiang, is ranked as one of the top-rated 529 college savings plans in the country by Morningstar, an independent investment research firm. ScholarShare currently holds over $6.9 billion in assets in more than 278,000 accounts as of 9/30/16.
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