Managing, Investing, and Securing Your Tax Dollars

The State Treasurer and his staff serve the citizens of Colorado by providing banking and investment services for all funds deposited with the State Treasury. As funds are deposited, they are invested in statutorily authorized investments. Simultaneously, the Treasury ensures that sufficient funds are maintained in cash accounts to meet the State’s daily cash needs. The income earned on its investments augments the State’s revenues from taxes and fees and decreases the tax burden on Colorado’s citizens.

Every government office has issues, but the Treasurer’s office is unique in that it does little in setting policy. Where your tax dollars go is determined by the State’s legislature. The Treasury simply ensures that the money is where and when it needs to be in order for schools to operate, roads to be built and public safety initiatives implemented.

Currently PERA maintains a $32 billion unfunded liability. An unfunded liability is money that is currently owed to beneficiaries but is not in the fund.

The Treasurer continues to be concerned about the PERA defined benefit plan’s rapidly growing unfunded liability. Many now see the unfunded liability as a major issue. The legislature is expected to debate reforms to PERA for the second time in ten years.

The solution will be neither easy nor painless. It will likely require tough political choices and compromises. As the only elected official serving on PERA’s board, the State Treasurer does wield some influence, and I hope to work closely with that board to find a solution.

To learn more about the issue, please visit this great page on Treasurer’s website outlining and the controversy.

The Investment section actively manages several distinct investment portfolios with the primary objectives, in order of importance, legality, safety, liquidity and yield.

In addition to constitutional and statutory guidance, each of the portfolios it manages has developed a written investment policy explicitly stating the appropriate goals, investment standards, level of liquidity, degree of credit risk, duration or average life, and other performance measures. The Treasurer has also established an investment advisory committee incorporating private sector investment professionals, and a representative of each of the agencies for which the Fund is managed to assist him in developing these policies.

For anyone worried about whether the Treasurer’s office is making risky bets with your tax dollars, I invite them to review our low-risk, low-yield investment portfolio on the State website. The best way to describe the Treasurer’s  investment strategy would be dreadfully cautious. All  funds under Treasury’s management are in fixed-income portfolios.

In Fiscal Year 2017, the Treasury Pool earned 1.13%.

Consider this the State’s giant Lost and Found box. The program was established in 1987, to locate owners of dormant or abandoned property and return their property to them.This might include physical property, like land or a home. It could include items and/or money left behind in a safety deposit box.

Since the program’s inception the Treasury has returned more than $600 million to citizens. In FY 2016-17, the Unclaimed Property section returned nearly $31 million to more than 11,000 claimants.

Believe it or not, this program has been the most controversial in during my 11 years as CFO. The most common complaint is that the process to reclaim lost money, property, etc., is too long. Well, all I can say to that is we make sure the right people get the right stuff, and that takes some time.