SAFFORD — The woman who oversees the financial health of the state is calling on teens and young adults to do their part in making Arizona prosperous by being financially literate.
State Treasurer Kimberly Yee visited Graham and Greenlee counties on Tuesday as part of a statewide tour talking about the state’s revenues and her financial literacy program. She spoke to a group of community leaders at a Republican-invitation event at El Coronado restaurant, and then caught up with the Courier.
She started with discussion of Senate Bill 1184, signed into law last April, which establishes a financial literacy program for the state’s high school students.
“I really wanted to do something for our children, because it’s very important that they understand their personal financial management before they get into the real world,” she told the Courier.
SB1184 requires school districts to include personal financial education as part of an economics course required for graduation. However, the bill does not require how much financial literacy must be included in the economics course, nor does it specify at what grade level economics must be taught. Passage of financial literacy is not a graduation requirement, only that students take the class.
“This is a first step,” she said. “(We have) generations of students who have not gotten one single semester, not even one hour of this type of curriculum.”
Yee added that her office pulled the data for Americans 18 to 34 years old and found 39 percent of women in that age group were making late payments on bills, and 7 million of those men and women were three months behind in making car payments.
Add in the $1.6 trillion student debt in the nation and “they are truly in the category of ‘at risk,’ ” she said. “The numbers are not working in our favor, so that’s why I feel it’s very important that we address this.”
She said her financial literacy task force is also looking at seniors and military families in need of financial education, and would soon be establishing a resource center to disseminate those resources.
“This office can be so much more than it has been,” Yee said. “We have constitutional responsibilities that we will remain focused on, and we have had record numbers coming out of our investments. For the treasurer it’s important to maintain the fiscal health of the state, but if you look at the fiscal health of the state, it’s not just investing for local governments or state agencies . . . it’s also the fiscal health of each Arizona citizen. And I look at that as a responsibility.”
Yee shared with area elected officials that the Local Government Investment Pools show earnings of $14.02 million for fiscal year 2019, while the Permanent Land Endowment Trust Fund has a market value of $6.01 billion.
She closed by saying the financial outlook for Arizona is quite rosy and her office is constantly on the lookout for impeding recession.
“Our (Arizona) economy is doing very well. That means people are spending money, and that means revenues are flowing,” Yee said. “While we hear of recession ideas nationally, it may be the case for other states, but I can’t say that it is happening right here in Arizona. In our office, from the investment side, we look at the numbers in a longer term, so we are making sure we are shielded from any of that.”
Editor's note: This story was updated at 9:16 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019, to reflect that the local event wasn't limited to only Republicans.