A lunch time capacity crowd of 60 jammed into the Amigo Juan banquet room in Hope Monday to hear State Treasurer Dennis Milligan discuss state finance, college funding, and his office's role in state government.
A lunch time capacity crowd of 60 jammed into the Amigo Juan banquet room in Hope Monday to hear State Treasurer Dennis Milligan discuss state finance, college funding, and his office’s role in state government.
In a 25-minute speech that was equal parts educational and humorous, Milligan’s overall presentation was relatively void of references to the 2017 legislative session or political happenings.
“We are the state’s banker; we are caretakers of the state’s money. That is what we do. The legislature spends the money, and the governor develops policy. We oversee $5 billion in revenue, and we invest the people’s money to get the best return on the people’s dollars,” Milligan said.
Milligan liked one division of his office to a Wall Street-style brokerage house complete with multiple computer screens, bells and alerts to monitor the latest financial information and news.
“We’ve got folks paying attention, and I am often in the office myself at five in the morning, checking the overnight forecasts and developments. I am an employee of the people, and I work every day to try to make sure the people’s money is being invested where it will safely bring the most return,” he said.
Milligan is presently serving his first term as State Treasurer, and he has returned $2 million dollars of his office's budget back to general revenue.
Milligan also said during his term in office so far, the state has realized over $130 million dollars in interest and that is more than the previous administration had realized in four years and the best return in the past dozen years.
Milligan also spoke to the Arkansas 529 GIFT Program, which had announced a fee reduction Monday as Milligan was taking a swing through Hope and Arkadelphia on Monday afternoon.
The 529 GIFT program, administered by Milligan’s office, allows Arkansas residents to deduct up to $10,000 from their state income taxes for the college savings plans for their children’s post-high school education.
Portfolio fees in the program are based on points, and everyone’s points will decrease by four, Milligan said.
In a short press interview afterwards, Milligan said “This is the ‘real world’ to me; I was born and raised in Arkansas. This is my element to be out here on the road with real people. Arkansans are my bosses, and I am out here getting the message out about my office, what we are doing, and being held accountable.”
Milligan also said, “I actually got a great legislative package that got passed during the session. We were very much involved in the session, and many of the improvements we wanted got passed and went into law.”
Now that the session is over, Milligan said he has been on the road throughout the state, up to three days a week.
“Whether it is Hope, Bentonville, or El Dorado, Arkansans deserve to hear from the state treasurer and about what my office is doing. I serve all Arkansans, so the message is the same. We want our state investments and management practices to be good for the citizens of Crossett, just as they would be for the citizens of Hope or Bentonville,” he said.