Thought Leadership Thursday
Leadership During An Unprecedented Time
Thought Leadership Thursday Article
I hope you were all able to enjoy Passover, Easter, and celebrations of spring last weekend, even if it was over Zoom. My wife Mary, a Colorado State Legislator, and I had a very nice dinner at home that we ordered from one of our favorite local restaurants, followed by a beautiful walk around town, complete with masks and social distancing, before the snow arrived.
The staff in the Colorado Treasurer’s Office is working from home as I expect your staff is, too. Knowing that our hardworking staff is adapting daily to new challenges and is keeping the state’s money safe and accessible enables me to focus on the big picture.
For the past few weeks, the big picture has included advocating for legislation at the federal level, serving on the Colorado Governor’s Emergency Council for Economic Growth and Stabilization, monitoring the delay of federal, state and local tax payments and the impact it will have on state revenue, relaying this information to the relevant stakeholders, joining state legislators’ virtual town halls, participating in regular conversations with our state budget director, controller, and legal counsel, and most recently, advocating for access to the state specific data in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
As a member of the Governor’s Emergency Council for Economic Growth and Stabilization, I volunteered to serve on the “Financial Services” subcommittee. Regardless of whether your Governor has established such a committee, the State Treasurer should and can be a leader in ensuring that the Small Business Administration’s small business loans — the Paycheck Protection Program — are administered efficiently.
This is a monumental program established in a very short period of time and we have seen some immediate growing pains. Helping to smooth out the wrinkles requires coordination between state leadership, federal leadership, and other stakeholders. I’ve had numerous conversations with Colorado’s financial institutions to find their pinch points and relay them to federal leadership as well as conversations with the business community in Colorado to gain an understanding of the challenges they are facing. In addition to communicating with our federal delegation, I have drafted a letter to Secretary Mnuchin and Administrator Carranza thanking them for their work, as well as requesting a deeper look and proposing potential solutions to the roadblocks that banks are facing as the PPP is rolled out.
Another issue that comes up on an almost daily basis, and one that I’m sure you are facing in your state, is the question of cash flow and effects on state revenue given the delay in collection of income, property, and sales tax. While we won’t know until later this month and into May the extent to which these delays and waived penalties will affect the state budget, I have been organizing calls with education groups in the state to act as a resource and to remind them that the Treasury stands ready to help them navigate potential budget shortfalls, as we always have with our state education interest-free loan program. In addition to education-related stakeholders, I have been working closely with our local county treasurers to try to find a balance between giving needed relief to taxpayers and maintaining necessary revenue levels.
I imagine you are having similar conversations in your state. Whether you’re looking for solutions to revenue shortfalls, advocating for fiscal aid for your state, or encouraging constituents to remain hopeful, you’ll need a robust team of leaders. Your federal delegation, state leadership, trade organizations, and NAST leadership and members can all be on your team. It’s important that we utilize our roles as State Treasurers to act as a resource and as a catalyst for solutions to the challenges we are facing in this unprecedented time.
I hope you can find some helpful tips here, please feel free to reach out if you have any follow up questions. Wishing you and your families health and good spirits.