Utah State Treasurer
David Damschen

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Treasurer Damschen announces $38.4 million new lost property now online for claim

Posted on: April 6th, 2018

$24.5 million paid out in FY 2017

Visit mycash.utah.gov or call 801-715-3300 to claim property

SALT LAKE CITY – April 6, 2018 – Utah State Treasurer David Damschen today announced that the Utah Unclaimed Property Division received more than $38.4 million in lost property at the end of 2017. This property comes from sources, such as dormant bank accounts, old stock certificates and uncollected insurance checks.

“We encourage Utahns to check mycash.utah.gov as they file their taxes to see if they have lost property to claim,” Treasurer Damschen said. “Our staff works hard to maintain record levels of unclaimed property payouts. In FY 2017, the Unclaimed Property Division put $24.5 million back into the pockets of rightful owners.”

A property is by law considered abandoned and must be turned over to the State if the holder of the property has not had contact with the owner for three years. Property holders remitted 327,000 new properties to the Unclaimed Property Division of the State Treasurer’s Office by the November 1, 2017 annual reporting deadline, along with the names and last-known addresses of owners. The Division currently safeguards more than $375 million in unclaimed property.

“Despite our aggressive education campaigns, many people still don’t search for property because they don’t think they could have lost anything. But that is exactly what we need them to do,” Unclaimed Property Division Administrator Dennis Johnston said. “There are many ways to lose property. People might move and forget they had a deposit with the utility company, or they might be beneficiaries of life insurance policies they didn’t know existed. Checking to see if you or your friends and relatives have lost property is simple, easy and something everyone should do.”

Unclaimed property is usually money, but the Unclaimed Property Division also regularly receives items from abandoned safe deposit boxes that can be claimed. The Division has a vault full of interesting items like coins, baseball cards, art and photographs. These items are periodically sold via auction, and the proceeds remain available to be claimed by the rightful owner.

Individuals may submit a claim for properties of deceased relatives if they can prove they are the rightful heir. In any case where there is more than one heir, they can request their portion of the claim.

For more information and to search property, visit mycash.utah.gov or call 801-715-3300.

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State treasurers outline infrastructure principles in response to President Trump’s $1.5 trillion proposal

Posted on: February 13th, 2018

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:

  • Clear Need: State treasurers agree that America’s aging infrastructure requires significant upgrades, which will require substantial investments from a variety of sources in order to meet the needs.
  • State & Local Input: State and local governments fund more than three-quarters of the nation’s infrastructure, which includes bridges, roads, hospitals, schools, and water management projects. Therefore, state and local officials understand the financial tools needed to implement a robust infrastructure plan and they must be involved in the decision-making process surrounding infrastructure spending.
  • Smart Solutions: To ensure state and local governments are equipped with the financial tools needed to implement a major infrastructure plan, Congress must support tax-exempt financing. This includes maximizing the use of tax-exempt municipal bonds, private activity bonds, and reinstating access to tax-exempt advance refunding bonds.

“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.

Utah State Treasurer David Damschen named NCPERS Policymaker of the Year

Posted on: January 30th, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY – January 30, 2018 – The National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems (NCPERS) honored Utah State Treasurer David Damschen this week with the 2017 Policymaker of the Year award at the association’s annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.

Treasurer Damschen received the award as recognition for his work advocating for states’ rights and effective approaches to sound retirement systems and policies.

Among his efforts, Treasurer Damschen worked to defend Department of Labor safe harbor rules, which empowered states to develop simple, low-cost retirement savings programs for workers who lack access to a workplace retirement plan. He wrote an op-ed on the topic.

“It is an honor to accept this award and a great privilege to support states that are striving to address the growing retirement savings gap in our country,” Treasurer Damschen said. “I am grateful for NCPERS’ leadership and advocacy, and I look forward to continued collaboration with the association.”

NCPERS is the largest nonprofit trade association for public sector pension funds, representing more than 500 funds throughout the United States and Canada that collectively manage more than $3 trillion in pension assets. Its core missions are federal and state advocacy, conducting research vital to the public pension community and educating pension trustees and officials.

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Sale of Utah Navajo Trust Fund land brings new store to rural Navajo community

Posted on: January 25th, 2018

Montezuma Creek community celebrates groundbreaking of Family Dollar

MONTEZUMA CREEK, UT – January 25, 2018 – The Montezuma Creek community came together today to celebrate the groundbreaking of Family Dollar.

According to Utah State Treasurer David Damschen, who serves as chair of the UNTF Board of Trustees, UNTF recently sold an acre of land to allow for the construction of the store. The Trust Fund owns approximately 15 acres in the area.

“This transaction will provide significant benefits to Navajos and other residents of the Montezuma Creek area. Family Dollar offers a myriad of useful products, such as food and clothing, that locals currently have to travel half an hour to access,” Treasurer Damschen said. “Additionally, the extension of utilities to the site will enhance the surrounding area and make it easier to develop other property the Trust Fund owns. This kind of economic development ultimately raises living standards and creates jobs.”

Construction is estimated to take between six and eight months, with a goal to complete the project this summer. Footings will be poured tomorrow.

“We are grateful for the collaboration that occurred to make this project possible and are excited for the new Family Dollar in Montezuma Creek,” said Greg Wall, senior project manager for Leading Tech Development – the developer and general contractor for the Montezuma Creek Family Dollar project. “We believe it will be a valuable asset to the community.”

Montezuma Creek is part of the Navajo Reservation in San Juan County, located in southeastern Utah. The Montezuma Creek Family Dollar will be one of the company’s larger stores.

UNTF is guaranteed first right of refusal if the property were ever to go up for sale and first right of rescission if the construction of Family Dollar were to fall through.

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Utah maintains AAA credit rating from all major rating agencies, saves taxpayer dollars

Posted on: January 24th, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY – January 24, 2018 – Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Treasurer David
Damschen today announced that S&P Global, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings have
reaffirmed the State’s AAA credit rating – the highest rating a state can receive.

“I am proud that Utah is once again among only a handful of states to receive a AAA rating by
all three rating agencies. This impressive accomplishment and Utah’s broad economic success
can be largely credited to our conservative approach to budgeting, debt management and other
financial policies,” Gov. Herbert said. “In Utah, we are thorough and collaborative in our fiscal
management, and I applaud the Utah team for this collective achievement.”

Agencies base their ratings on a range of financial, economic, managerial and institutional
factors. Utah’s history of continuous AAA bond ratings dates back to 1965, when S&P initiated
its rating system. The State’s AAA rating with Moody’s commenced in 1973 and with Fitch
Ratings in 1992.

“Maintaining the highest credit ratings saves Utah taxpayer dollars by allowing us to finance
large projects at the lowest interest rates available. High ratings also signal to investors that the
State can and will meet its financial obligations to pay both interest and principal,” Treasurer
Damschen said. “These ratings are indicative of good financial management practices and a
strong economy.”

As cited in the rating reports, the agencies’ rationales for Utah’s ratings include:

  • A diverse and rapidly growing economy, with a young, well-educated workforce, job
    growth across most major sectors and an unemployment rate that is among the lowest of
    the 50 states.
  • Strong growth in Utah’s broad-based revenues, reflecting the breadth of the economy
    and its strong growth potential.
  • Continued good financial management and structurally balanced financial operations,
    including proactive budget adjustments to maintain adequate rainy-day reserves,
    conservative estimates of revenue growth and ample liquidity with no need to access
    external markets for cash flow.
  • A conservative approach to debt, which is closely managed through both constitutional
    and statutory formula.
  • Low and quickly amortizing debt, despite the demands of population growth. Combined
    tax-supported debt per capita of $808, or 1.6% of state GDP and 2.0% of total personal
    income.
  • Low long-term liabilities, with the combined burden of net tax-supported debt and
    unfunded pension liabilities equal to 3.9% of personal income, compared to the 6%
    median for U.S. states.
  • A strong governmental framework, with a constitutional requirement to maintain a
    balanced budget and a fiscal policy that allows for changes to the revenue structure and
    program spending by a simple majority of the legislature.
  • A demonstrated ability to take prompt action to maintain budgetary balance as well as to
    restore fiscal flexibility during growth periods, while managing pressures associated
    with a growing population.

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Utah State Treasurer named Senior Vice President of the National Association of State Treasurers

Posted on: January 22nd, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY – January 22, 2018 – The Office of the Utah State Treasurer today announced that

Treasurer David Damschen will serve as 2018 senior vice president of the National Association of State Treasurers (NAST).

NAST is a bipartisan association comprised of state treasurers and state finance officials with comparable responsibilities.

“NAST provides a wealth of knowledge and resources to treasurers across the country, enabling us to administer sound financial policies and programs,” Treasurer Damschen said. “It is an honor to serve in this national leadership position, as Utah continues to collaborate with other states on shared fiscal opportunities and challenges.”

The association serves its members through educational conferences and webinars, a variety of working groups, policy advocacy and publications that provide information about developments in public finance. As senior vice president, Treasurer Damschen will be responsible for coordinating the association’s annual conference, serving as liaison to the Corporate Affiliate Board and acting on behalf of the president in her absence.

NAST President and Vermont State Treasurer Beth Pearce said, “Treasurer Damschen is a national leader in public finance and an expert on banking and treasury management. He is a dedicated public servant and a person of integrity. I am proud to serve with him at NAST.”

Treasurer Damschen served as the 2017 chairman of the NAST Legislative Committee, where he helped shape the association’s federal policy agenda and worked with the association’s National Executive Committee to coordinate federal advocacy efforts regarding state financial issues in Washington, D.C.

To learn more about the Office of the Utah State Treasurer, visit: treasurer.utah.gov. Additional information on NAST and its 2018 legislative priorities is available at nast.org.

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Utah Unclaimed Property Administrator named President of National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators

Posted on: January 22nd, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY – January 22, 2018 – The Office of the Utah State Treasurer today announced that Utah Unclaimed Property Administrator Dennis Johnston will serve as the 2018 president of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA).

As an affiliate network of the National Association of State Treasurers (NAST), NAUPA increases awareness of unclaimed property as a vital consumer protection program.

Millions of dollars in lost or unclaimed property is turned over to the State of Utah every year. This money comes from places like dormant bank accounts, old stock certificates and uncollected insurance checks.

“Recent technology improvements have enabled our division to maintain record levels of unclaimed property payouts to rightful owners,” Johnston said.  “It is an honor to lead this national network and collaborate with other states on ways we can continue to improve our efforts to get lost property back where it belongs.”

Under Johnston’s leadership, the number of paid unclaimed property claims in Utah has quadrupled, and more than 50 percent of claims are paid in just one week. Utah continues to lead the nation in its efforts to improve unclaimed property processes, including through its 2017 adoption of the revised Unclaimed Property Act.

“I have worked with Dennis in his role as senior vice president at NAUPA and as the Western Region vice president. I look forward to his continued leadership at NAUPA,” NAST President and Vermont State Treasurer Beth Pearce said. “Under the leadership of both Treasurer Damschen and Dennis Johnston, it is no surprise that Utah became one of the first states in the nation to adopt the revised Unclaimed Property Act.”

This is Johnston’s third year serving in NAUPA leadership and sixth year as Utah’s Unclaimed Property administrator.

Lost or abandoned property can be found by searching mycash.utah.gov or by calling 801-715-3300.

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Utah One of Top Five Most Fiscally Healthy States in the Nation

Posted on: July 19th, 2017

“Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition 2017”

SALT LAKE CITY – July  19, 2017 –Utah State Treasurer David C. Damschen today announced that Utah has been ranked one of the top five most fiscally healthy states in the nation by the George Mason University Mercatus Center.  Entitled “Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition 2017 Edition,” this widely regarded report comparatively determines state financial health through thorough analysis of each state’s revenues, expenditures, cash, assets, liabilities, debt and ability to  meet both short and long-term financial obligations.  Utah is ranked fourth in the nation – with Illinois and New Jersey falling last.

“Utah policymakers must be extremely vigilant in considering both the short and long-term fiscal consequences of every policy decision – because ultimately all policy decisions in some way directly affects our State’s fiscal health,”  said Treasurer Damschen.  “Utah is currently a national fiscal leader with enviable economic growth due largely to our staunchly conservative approach to state finances, and I applaud the Utah team for this collective achievement.  Fiscally conservative financial practices prevail long-term – plain and simple.”

From the Report – Top Five States

Florida, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming rank in the top five states. According to the report, “top-performing states tend to have higher levels of cash, low unfunded pensions, and strong operating positions.”

  • Low debt and a strong cash position help maintain fiscal discipline. Keeping debt levels low, saving cash to pay bills, and maintaining solvent budgets reflect a culture of fiscal discipline. The first-place position of Florida in particular demonstrates that this is possible even with a relatively larger population and higher pension costs that arise from an aging population.
  • Oil and gas revenues play a role in short-term fiscal health. The top-performing states owe some of their success to unpredictable revenue sources. As oil prices have been declining, however, we see this detrimentally affecting their budgets. Alaska has moved out of the top five, and Wyoming has moved from third to fifth as a result. North Dakota’s revenues also declined and have the potential to impact their future rankings.
  • Pensions and health care still pose long-term challenges to top-performing states. While these top five states are considered fiscally healthy relative to other states because they have significant amounts of cash on hand and relatively low short-term debt obligations, each state, especially Wyoming, faces substantial long-term challenges related to its pension and healthcare benefits systems.
  • The top five states have changed since last year. Alaska and Nebraska dropped out of the top five, allowing Florida and Utah to join. North Dakota and South Dakota improved from fourth and fifth to second and third, respectively, pushing Wyoming down two spots to fifth place.

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Treasurer Damschen Announces Saving Over $5 Million Taxpayer Dollars

Posted on: June 22nd, 2017

State’s New Payments Contract Saves Taxpayer Dollars, Increases Protections Against Fraud & Provides Quality Customer Service

SALT LAKE CITY – June 22, 2017 – Utah State Treasurer David Damschen today announced that the Office of the Utah State Treasurer saved Utah taxpayers over $5 million through a competitive procurement process for the State of Utah’s soon-to-expire merchant services contract. During the year long process, seven proposals were thoroughly evaluated jointly with the state’s Division of Finance to determine which service provider could best facilitate the State’s credit card, debit card, mobile and online payment processing needs. The over $5 million in savings will be realized over the course of the 10-year contract and save Utahns over $242,000 in the first year alone – a nearly 40 percent first-year annual cost savings.

“Our new contract saves Utah taxpayers over $5 million, a nearly 40 percent cost savings in the first year alone,” said Treasurer Damschen. “State agencies like DMV, Department of Natural Resources and DABC process millions of credit and debit card transactions each year for things from motor vehicle registration fees to hunting and fishing licenses – and while the treasurer’s office doesn’t collect this money from Utahns – we want to ensure the processes by which this is done are the safest, most cost-effective available.”

Chase Paymentech LLC, a division of J.P. Morgan Chase was chosen through the competitive process. The contract has statewide cooperative designation, which means any local government entity in Utah can join the contract and take advantage of the favorable terms negotiated by the State.

In addition to the over $5 million in taxpayer savings, other benefits for Utahns include quality customer service, increased security against payment fraud and enhanced protection against data breaches through Paymentech’s proprietary security solutions.

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Utah maintains AAA credit rating from all major rating agencies

Posted on: June 14th, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY  (June 14, 2017) – Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Treasurer David C. Damschen announced today that S&P Global, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings have reaffirmed the state’s “AAA” credit rating. The rating affirmations coincide with the upcoming release of the Preliminary Official Statement and Notice of Bond Sale for the legislatively authorized $146.3 million transaction, which will fund a portion of the state prison project and several transportation projects.

“I am proud that Utah is one of the 10 states receiving a AAA rating by all three rating agencies again this year,” said Gov. Herbert. “Our triple-triple rating and broad economic success can be largely credited to the the principles of fiscal discipline and budgetary restraint, which we have worked closely with the legislature to maintain year after year. These bond ratings have again proven that thoughtful money management practices lead to continual growth and stability.”

Last week, Treasurer Damschen and the governor’s State Budget Director Phil Dean traveled to New York City to meet with the agencies to secure ratings in preparation for the state’s upcoming bond issue.

“Utah’s conservative fiscal principles and wise money management practices earn the highest credit ratings, allowing us to finance large projects at the very best rates available – saving Utah taxpayer dollars,” said Treasurer Damschen. “Utah is a national fiscal leader with enviable economic growth due in part to our staunchly conservative approach to state finances, debt management and other financial policies – and I applaud the Utah team for this collective achievement.”

Utah’s history of continuous AAA bond ratings dates back to 1965, when S&P initiated its rating system. The State’s AAA rating with Moody’s dates back to 1973, and with Fitch Ratings back to 1992.

As cited in the rating reports, the agencies’ rationales for Utah’s ratings include:

  • The state’s conservative debt and fiscal policies, which have kept debt levels low and quickly amortizing, and have allowed for successful and timely action when addressing budgetary imbalances.

  • A diversified state economy that is emerging as an important regional center in information technology, finance and business services.

  • Application of a number of strong management practices, such as binding consensus revenue forecasting, multi-year financial planning, budget stress testing review, and a debt affordability analysis.

  • A young, well-educated workforce and an unemployment rate that is among the lowest of the 50 states.

  • Low long-term liabilities, with the combined burden of net tax-supported debt and adjusted unfunded pension liabilities equal to 3.6% of 2015 personal income, compared with a 5.1% median for all U.S. states.

  • A very strong ability to close budgetary gaps during a cyclical downturn, based on its demonstrated controls over spending, ability to raise revenues when necessary, and access to reserves.

On Tues., June 27, 2017, the Office of Utah State Treasurer will receive competitive bids for the bonds, utilizing an electronic system designed to rank submitted bids in real-time, ensuring that borrowing costs are minimized and the low cost bidder is identified immediately following the bid deadline.

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