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David Damschen

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Utah Treasurer invites Utah women to attend first annual financial empowerment conference

Posted on: April 2nd, 2019

SALT LAKE CITY – April 2, 2019 –Treasurer David Damschen today announced that Utah’s first annual women’s financial empowerment conference will be held on April 22 at the Sheraton Salt Lake Hotel. Conference attendees will learn how to improve personal and family finances, maximize income, reduce debt, improve credit, start a business, save for retirement and develop a financial support network to build a more secure financial future.

“As chair of the Utah Council on Financial and Economic Education, I am grateful for the opportunity to bring together some of Utah’s top financial leaders to share their knowledge and skills with Utah women,” Treasurer Damschen said.  “This is an excellent opportunity for women of all ages, cultures and financial situations to grow their financial capability together.”

The conference is focused on women because of some of the unique financial situations women face. Women live longer than men and are more likely to outlive their assets. Women are also more likely to take on caretaker responsibilities, teach their children about money and help elderly or disabled loved ones manage their finances. Additionally, women are increasingly playing a greater role in the workforce and market. Two-thirds of household breadwinners and co-breadwinners are women, and 89 percent of financial decisions are made by women.

“Women fill many important roles in our state. It is critical to equip them with the knowledge, skills and resources they need to make sound financial decisions for themselves and their families,” said Susan Speirs, CEO of the Utah Association of CPAs and chair of the nonprofit responsible for organizing the conference.

The cost of attending the conference is $25 and includes all sessions, breakfast and lunch.  Scholarships are available for those in need. Those interested in scholarships should contact the Utah Office of State Treasurer by phone, 801-538-1042, or email, sto@utah.gov.

For more information or to register for the conference, visit: womeninthemoney.org.

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New technology helps Unclaimed Property Division reunite more lost money with rightful owners

Posted on: March 12th, 2019

More robust search technology increases the average number of properties per claim by 9%

SALT LAKE CITY – March 12, 2019 – Utah State Treasurer David Damschen today announced that the August implementation of the new unclaimed property management system has resulted in increased efficiencies and a better user experience.

Since the conversion, the average number of properties per claim has increased by 9% due to more robust search technology.  

“The new system makes it even easier for Utahns to search for unclaimed property, and it enables us to process claims more quickly,” Treasurer Damschen said. “You can now upload claim documentation directly to the website, instead of having to mail it to us or deliver it in person.”  

Some other new features include improved online payments, manual online reporting for small reports and stronger protections to ensure security of personal information.

“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. “We are thrilled by the results of the system conversion. It has taken us to the next level, improving the claims process and enabling us to reunite more unclaimed property with rightful owners.”

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

Facebook Live: facebook.com/utah.unclaimed

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Utah State Treasurer appoints director of new Land Trusts Protection and Advocacy Office

Posted on: March 7th, 2019

SALT LAKE CITY – March 7, 2019 – Utah State Treasurer David Damschen today announced the appointment of Justin Atwater as the director of the newly created Land Trusts Protection and Advocacy Office.

During the 2018 general session, the legislature authorized the creation of the office to advocate for Utah trust lands beneficiaries, oversee SITLA and SITFO administrations and help the public understand and support these endowments.  The office is overseen by the state treasurer and a newly created Protection and Advocacy Committee.

“The depth and quality of Mr. Atwater’s background in law, government operations, real estate development and investment uniquely qualifies him to serve as the first director of the Advocacy Office,” Treasurer Damschen said. “Monitoring complex land and investment management decisions to ensure they benefit all current and future beneficiaries requires specialized expertise that we are fortunate to have found in Mr. Atwater.”

Atwater brings more than a decade of experience in real estate development, management, entitlement, leasing, law and investment. He recently served as executive director of the State Executive Branch Ethics Commission and as the chief operating officer and general counsel for a Utah-based real estate development firm. In a previous role, he assisted the developer of the largest ski terrain in North America in achieving several legal and real estate development results that shaped the future of the mountain recreation and development landscape in Utah.

“I am enthusiastic about developing an environment of cooperation and providing responsible, undivided advocacy for the preservation, stability and growth of trust lands assets for years to come,” Atwater said.

The Protection and Advocacy Committee was formed last fall.  The committee screened, selected and interviewed candidates during the past six months.  They recently presented Treasurer Damschen with their top two nominations.

“We are thrilled by Mr. Atwater’s appointment and are eager to work with him to advocate for and protect the interests of current and future trust beneficiaries,” Protection and Advocacy Board Chair Mel Brown said.

Atwater will assume his role on March 18.

About the School and Institutional Trust System

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.

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

Posted on: January 15th, 2019

SALT LAKE CITY (January 15, 2019) – 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.

“Utah once again stands out as a leader in the nation for its broad fiscal and economic success, which 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. We have worked closely with the legislature to adhere to the principles of fiscal discipline and budgetary restraint, making our state one of only a handful to receive a AAA rating by all three rating agencies. 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.

“We’re seeing overwhelming demand from investors for our bonds,” Treasurer Damschen said. “This is in clear response to the strength of our credit, which allows us to finance large projects at the lowest interest rates available in the market and ultimately save big for Utah taxpayers.”

The rating affirmations coincide with today’s legislatively authorized $128 million general obligation (GO) bond transaction, which will finance transportation projects. During the December special legislative session, the governor and legislature jointly approved additional appropriations for the prison project, which eliminated the need to borrow for the prison project this year and significantly reduced today’s transaction from the initially-planned $375 million – increasing savings on prison project costs.

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

  • 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.
  • Conservative fiscal and debt management policies that include constitutional or statutory limits on appropriation growth and debt issuance to keep debt levels low and quickly amortizing, despite demands of population growth.
  • Continued leadership in the management and funding of long-term liabilities for pensions and other post-retirement benefits, leading to low fixed costs relative to its peers and contributing to the state’s good budgetary flexibility.
  • Successful and timely action when addressing budgetary imbalances.
  • Reserve funds that accumulate based on a statutorily determined formula.
  • Job growth across most major sectors, including solid growth in trade, transportation and utilities – the state’s largest employment sector.
  • An unemployment rate that is typically well below the national average.
  • Annual real GDP growth that has continuously surpassed the nation’s since 2013 and is expected to continue to outperform the nation due to a favorable industry mix and strong population growth.

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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 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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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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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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