Utah State Treasurer
David Damschen

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Utah leaders evaluate 10-year financial literacy effort

Posted on: October 19th, 2018

Utah State Treasurer David Damschen and Auditor John Dougall are meeting with financial literacy leaders at the Utah Jump$tart Coalition Partners Meeting on October 19 at the Wells Fargo Building in Salt Lake City. This annual gathering focuses on how businesses, nonprofits and schools can work together to prepare youth for financial success.

“Utah is the only A+ state in the nation for financial and economic literacy education,” said Anna Tibbitts, Director of the Utah Jump$tart Coalition, “For the past decade, Utah has taken a proactive role in preparing students to make smart financial decisions. This gathering of financial literacy leaders is designed to evaluate what we have accomplished and what we can do better moving forward.”

The Office of the State Auditor recently released its review of Utah’s General Financial Literacy (GFL) graduation requirement and associated program. The 2017‐18 school year marked the ten‐year anniversary of the enactment of Utah’s GFL legislative mandate.

State Auditor John Dougall said, “The results from our Office’s review show that Utah students who have completed the GFL requirement appear to have better personal financial knowledge and make better behavioral choices than those who have not. The study also identifies opportunities to improve the effectiveness of the program itself to help further strengthen the financial skills of Utah’s young adults as well opportunities to enhance program oversight.”

The report may be found on the Office’s website at auditor.utah.gov and specifically at: https://reporting.auditor.utah.gov/servlet/servlet.FileDownload?file=015410000038ypZAAQ .

Treasurer Damschen chairs the Utah Council on Financial and Economic Education, an organization comprised of more than 50 private and public entities that share a common mission to increase the financial capability of Utahns.

“A primary objective of the Utah Council on Financial and Economic Education is to advocate for and strengthen K-12 financial education in Utah,” Treasurer Damschen said. “I applaud the outstanding efforts of organizations like the Utah Jump$tart Coalition and the Utah State Board of Education to make Utah the leader in the nation in financial literacy. The council is eager to support the implementation of the auditor’s recommendations to strengthen a program that is critical in providing our youth with the knowledge and resources they need to establish a strong foundation for a financially secure future.”

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Treasurer Damschen announces new unclaimed property system, enhanced website

Posted on: October 9th, 2018

Unclaimed Property Division reunites $24.4 million with rightful owners in FY 2018

SALT LAKE CITY – October 9, 2018 – Utah State Treasurer David Damschen today announced the implementation of a new unclaimed property management system and an enhanced website that incorporate the latest advancements in technology to provide claimants and holders with the simplest, most secure experience possible.

“The newly redesigned website makes it even easier for Utahns to search for unclaimed property and for holders to report unclaimed property to the State,” Treasurer Damschen said. “Some of the new features include an enhanced search function for more comprehensive searches, the ability to upload claim documentation directly to the website, improved online payments, manual online reporting for small reports and stronger protections to ensure security of personal information.”

Last year, the Unclaimed Property Division put $24.4 million back into the pockets of rightful owners and processed 19,705 claims – that is four times as many claims as 10 years ago. In recent years, the Division has paid more than 50 percent of claims in just one week. That percentage should increase with the new system.

“During the past several years, we have placed significant focus on leveraging technology to make record levels of unclaimed property payouts to rightful owners,” Unclaimed Property Administrator Dennis Johnston said. “The new KAPS system and enhanced website will take us to the next level, improving the claims process and enabling us to reunite more unclaimed property with rightful owners.”

The 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, uncashed checks, safe deposit box contents and unpaid insurance benefits.

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

Video: https://youtu.be/NAA38ZYZrPM.

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Treasurer Damschen to lead the National Association of State Treasurers as the 2019 president

Posted on: October 1st, 2018

SCOTTSDALE, AZ – October 1, 2018 – Utah State Treasurer David Damschen today was elected by his fellow state treasurers to serve as the 2019 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.

“I am honored to lead this national bipartisan association that has for more than four decades addressed some of the country’s toughest fiscal challenges,” Treasurer Damschen said. “NAST provides a wealth of knowledge and resources to treasurers across the country, as we work to improve the nation’s aging infrastructure, strengthen public pension systems, prudently invest public funds, effectively manage public debt, address issues of cybersecurity, help our citizens achieve financial security, reunite unclaimed properties with rightful owners and so much more.”

NAST serves its members through educational conferences and webinars, a variety of working groupspolicy advocacy and publications that provide information about developments in public finance.

Treasurer Damschen served as the 2017 chairman of the NAST Legislative Committee and the 2018 NAST senior vice president alongside the current NAST president, Vermont State Treasurer Beth Pearce.

“It has been my distinct honor to work closely with Treasurer Pearce this year. I am grateful for her leadership, vision and tireless service that have taken NAST to the next level,” Treasurer Damschen said.

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

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Treasurer Damschen announces record-breaking Permanent State School Fund distribution to Utah schools

Posted on: September 27th, 2018

Funds go to schools for programs chosen by parents, teachers and principals at no cost to taxpayers

SALT LAKE CITY – September 27, 2018 – Utah State Treasurer David Damschen today announced that the Permanent State School Fund will make the largest-ever distribution to Utah schools next year.

Schools are slated to receive a record $82.66 million from the Permanent State School Fund in July 2019 – a 12 percent increase from this year’s distribution of $74 million and a 29 percent increase from last year’s distribution of $64.25 million.

Under the School LAND Trust Program, investment earnings from the Permanent State School Fund are distributed to every school in the state based on a per pupil formula. Each school’s community council, comprised of parents, teachers and the principal, annually determines the greatest academic needs of their students and prepares plans to improve student academic performance with their portion of distributions from the fund.

“I applaud the great work of the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) administering trust lands and the solid investment decisions of the School and Institutional Trust Funds Office (SITFO) maximizing the impact of the Permanent State School Fund. Their efforts benefit Utah’s education programs now and for years to come,” Treasurer Damschen said. “Every dollar we earn through prudent investment of the fund is a dollar in school funding not paid by the Utah taxpayer.”

Since SITLA’s formation in 1994, the agency has generated nearly $1.9 billion in revenue to help grow the Permanent School Fund from $76 million to $2.4 billion.

“At SITLA, we strive to administer trust lands as effectively as possible for Utah’s schoolchildren, generating revenue from energy, real estate and surface development on the 3.3 million acres of school trust lands,” SITLA Director David Ure said. “The best part of my job is visiting schools and seeing the positive ways schools use their distributions to create better educational experiences for students.”

Legislation enacted in 2014 created SITFO as an independent state agency tasked with the investment of these funds. SITFO is overseen by a five-member Board of Trustees composed of investment professionals and chaired by the state treasurer.

“As a team of outcome-oriented investors, we strive to prudently optimize the return on the School and Institutional Trusts’ investments for Utah’s public education programs,” SITFO Director and Chief Investment Officer Peter Madsen said. “It is always very rewarding to see the figures come to life and help make a real impact in Utah classrooms.”

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Treasurer Damschen appoints new SITFO board member

Posted on: June 25th, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY – June 25, 2018 – Utah State Treasurer David Damschen today announced the appointment of Jason Gull to the School and Institutional Trust Funds Office (SITFO) Board of Trustees.

When Utah became a state in 1896, Congress granted approximately seven million acres of land into twelve separate trusts for the support of state institutions, the largest being a trust for the perpetual support of public schools. The land has been administered by the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) since 1994. In 2014, the Utah State Legislature created SITFO as an independent state agency with a five-member Board of Trustees, chaired by the state treasurer, to invest the funds produced by SITLA’s administration of the land.

“The depth and quality of Mr. Gull’s background in private equity complements the broad range of institutional investment management expertise our existing board members bring to the table,” Treasurer Damschen said. “He will bring a unique dimension of perspective and inquiry to our work as fiduciaries, policymakers and overseers.”

Gull was formerly a partner, head of secondary investments and member of the executive committee at Adams Street Partners, a global private markets investment manager with approximately $30 billion of assets under management. Among his other experiences, he worked at Landmark Partners, a global private equity and real estate investment firm, and was a director of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the Olympic Winter Games of 2002. Gull earned his bachelor’s degree in comparative literature from BYU and his MBA from Yale.

“Education is an invaluable public resource, and the School and Institutional Trusts are ultimately an investment in our community as a whole,” Gull said. “I look forward to applying my knowledge and experience as a board member to ensure that SITFO continues to make solid investment decisions that will benefit Utah’s education programs for years to come.”

The SITFO Nominating Committee met five times during the past four months to identify and interview candidates. Treasurer Damschen interviewed the committee’s final nominations before appointing Gull to the board. Gull will serve a six-year term, to expire June 30, 2024.

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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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