The office of treasurer is another of this year’s musical chairs.
Treasurer Kate Marshall is term limited from seeking re-election as treasurer, so the seat is being contested for by Democrat Kim Wallin, who is term limited from seeking re-election as controller, and Republican Dan Schwartz, a private businessman with 35 years of financial and investment experience.
Wallin is a graduate of UNLV with a business degree and major in accounting. Schwartz holds an MBA in finance from Columbia and is a member of the Illinois Bar.
The treasurer oversees issuing state-backed bonds, is responsible for returning unclaimed property to its rightful owner, managing scholarship funds such as the Millennium Scholarship and, perhaps most importantly, investing the state’s general fund money that is not needed immediately to pay the bills.
Schwartz points out that Wallin is an accountant and not an expert in investing. “The accountant counts the money, the treasurer invests it …” he said. “Look at what Kate Marshall has done. She’s a lawyer. She actually loses money on the general fund,” noting that her investments don’t generate enough return to cover fees and inflation.
Schwartz said one problem with state investments is that there is a prohibition against investing in the stock market, where money could earn 2 to 9 percent a year, and he would like to see that changed. He noted the state retirement system invests in stocks and earned more than 17 percent this past year.
“We Nevadans are short-changing ourselves,” he said, admitting it could be risky in the short-term but not so much in the long-term.
In a radio debate Wallin and Schwartz took opposite stands on the Silver State Opportunity Fund, a $50 million private equity fund, which invests money from the Nevada Permanent School Fund. Wallin defended the fund as long-term investment. Schwartz derided it as a highly risky short-term boondoggle. He says it might generate $200,000 in revenue but cost $600,000 to $1 million in fees and marketing expenses.
Schwartz, if elected, would shut down the fund and use the money to create a microloan program for Nevada businesses that would create jobs and restore funding for the Millennium Scholarship, which is rapidly running out of money.
We believe Schwartz has the experience and knowledge of the investment world that would better serve the state’s bottom line and encourage voters to act accordingly. —TM