Pledges to work to save taxpayers as much as possible
Harrisburg, PA – State Treasurer Joe Torsella today told the Pennsylvania Senate Appropriations Committee that the PA Treasury Department would pursue the highest levels of transparency, accountability and integrity in all aspects of its operations while also working cooperatively with lawmakers on solutions to help Pennsylvania deal with its long-term financial health and security. The Treasurer also outlined several new programs that Treasury will launch.
“Every dollar Treasury oversees comes from the hard work of a Pennsylvania taxpayer. That means we must protect that trust and create savings whenever and wherever possible. Increasing the Commonwealth’s economic stability and prosperity is critical as the state continues to face serious budget shortfalls with increasing frequency.”
Pennsylvania Treasurer, Joe Torsella
Torsella noted that last year the PA Treasury provided a line of credit of $2.5 billion to the Commonwealth to prevent the General Fund from falling into negative territory, the largest in Commonwealth history.
“Treasury now displays the daily General Fund balance on the front page of its website because it is important that every Pennsylvanian understand the state’s fiscal situation. I, personally, and Treasury, are both partners in seeking real solutions to the state’s fiscal situation far beyond adoption of the new budget. We also want to partner in building Pennsylvania’s long-term common wealth and financial strength.”
The Treasurer offered these highlights of the Department’s recent accomplishments:
- Treasury banned investment firms from paying fees to middlemen. This included a formal ban on all investment contracts with third-party agreements paying a middleman finder’s fee as a reward for acquiring Treasury investment contracts. The ban was effective January 17, 2017.
- Implemented its first code of conduct on Department investment activities that identifies and prohibits actual and perceived conflicts of interest for Treasury investment staff, their immediate family members, and other personnel.
- During the last fiscal year, Treasury processed 21.1 million payments worth nearly $92.2 billion. Importantly, Treasury’s pre-audit review prevented nearly $74.2 million of erroneous payments.
- Treasury’s Bureau of Unemployment Compensation processed an additional 8.2 million payments totaling over $2.45 billion in benefits. These payments included $2.1 billion in unemployment payments, $97 million in Supplemental Social Security payments and $237 million in State Workers’ Insurance Fund Payments, helping hundreds of thousands of families.
- Treasury website now allows Pennsylvania taxpayers to track the General Fund balance and to see the comparison of monthly/annual revenues and expenditures along with the amount of loans provided by Treasury to keep the General Fund from falling into negative territory.
- In 2017, Treasury has already decreased costs by making a reduction in its automotive fleet and through better efficiency in advertising of Unclaimed Property. In 2016, Treasury reorganized work responsibilities in peak times and began the use of new human resource software to streamline operations.
The PA 529 College Savings Program ended 2016 with a fund balance of $3.9 billion in assets, the highest year-end amount in the program’s history. The PA 529’s Guaranteed Savings Plan is fully funded at 118 percent. This continues the impressive turnaround from where the Fund was seven years ago when it was only 70 percent funded and had an actuarial deficit of approximately $400 million. In 2016, Treasury helped families contribute over $490.2 million into their Pennsylvania College Savings Program accounts and opened 20,000 new accounts.
Torsella said Treasury would expand its PA 529 College Savings Program with the launch of a Keystone Accounts pilot program in 2017. This program will eventually provide universal college saving accounts statewide.
“There are 150,000 children born every year in our Commonwealth. I want every child to grow up saving money, fully participating in the financial system and planning for a bright future as a college or vocational school graduate.
For more information on PA Treasury programs, visit www.patreasury.gov.
Note: Click here to read a copy of the written testimony submitted by Treasurer Torsella ahead of the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing. Please note that identical testimony was submitted to the House Appropriations Committee.