Treasurer candidate wants more investment in state banks

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Republican state treasurer candidate Sarah Steelman made a campaign stop in Cape Girardeau Tuesday, meeting with local media and government officials in an effort to claim the spot which will be left vacant by Nancy Farmer.

Steelman is one of seven Republicans and one of 10 candidates who have filed for the office.

Oiginally from Jefferson City, Steelman is currently a state senator from Rolla. She has a role on several committees and has been an advocate for more strict open-meeting laws.

Part of Steelman's campaign platform is to invest the state's money in Missouri banks.

"I want to bring the money back home to Missouri," she said. "The current treasurer has invested 90 percent of our dollars in New York banks and institutions. In the last couple of years, we've lost 70,000 jobs in Missouri. If we're depositing dollars in local banks and institutions, we're helping turn around our local economy."

Chuck Miller, the state deputy treasurer, disputed Steelman's figure, saying at least 16 percent is invested in Missouri banks. He said the idea of investing more money in Missouri is little more than political jargon.

"It's a popular political claim to make, but what is Missouri? Is Ford in Missouri? We have two Ford plants in Missouri, but Ford is based in Michigan," Miller said. "All your investments go through Wall Street in some sort of fashion. Every treasurer in the country is going through New York."

Steelman also says she will expand the Missouri FIRST Linked Deposit Program, a low-interest loan program in which deposits of state funds are placed in Missouri banks at below-market rates, allowing eligible borrowers to obtain low-interest loans from that institution.

"We're only utilizing $65 million while $350 million has been authorized," she said. "It's mostly targeted in agriculture, but I'd like to see it expanded to other areas."

Steelman also said she wants to see the treasurer position be more vocal on issues.

"Neither this treasurer nor the one before that, which was Bob Holden, speak out on fiscal irresponsibility," Steelman said. "The treasurer should speak out like the CFO of the state and say when something is not good for the state."

bmiller@semissourian.com

243-6635

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