2022 Colorado Primary
STATE TREASURER CANDIDATE
Campaign Website URL: www.SiasForColorado.com
Email Address: Lang.Sias@gmail.com
Military Background: Former Navy and Air National Guard Fighter Pilot and TOPGUN Instructor
Resident of Colorado: 22 years
What experience (personal, professional, other) would you bring to your role as Treasurer that will benefit our state?
In the Colorado legislature, served as ranking member on the House Business Committee, on the Education and Public Health Committees, and on the Tax Simplification Task Force. Passed first-in- the-nation bipartisan legislation supporting public school choice, passed bipartisan legislation to stop predatory healthcare billing, and was a driving force behind bipartisan reform legislation preserving and protecting PERA while treating taxpayers fairly. Currently serve on the legislative subcommittee overseeing PERA. Have always supported taxpayers’ right to vote on tax increases.
Served in the military for twenty-seven years, as a Navy and Air National Guard fighter pilot, TOPGUN Instructor and combat veteran. Grew up in a small business. As an attorney at a top national firm, helped many entrepreneurs finance and grow businesses.
What is your vision for being our state’s Treasurer?
My vision for the Treasurer’s office is to serve as an advocate for taxpayers. To fight for transparency, accountability and sound, common-sense economic policies that benefit all of Colorado, especially families and small businesses. We are seeing the unfortunate impact of single-party rule at the state and national level. Inflation is having a devastating impact, particularly on our least fortunate, and government spending has reached unsustainable levels. I will restore balance on economic issues among our state-wide elected officials.
As an independent PERA Board member, I will continue to advocate for policies that preserve and protect PERA while treating taxpayers fairly.
I will be a responsible steward of the state’s investments, and manage Treasury Department programs efficiently and transparently.
Do you believe that the current rate of return on Treasury Pool investments can be improved and, if so, how would you seek to do so?
Treasury Pool funds must be immediately available for appropriation by the Legislature and expenditure by the Executive Branch. Accordingly, the T-Pool is invested in short-term investments which are highly liquid and highly rated. While obtaining additional yield is a desirable goal, the higher priority is ensuring no loss of principal, as that could render the Treasury unable to provide the funds lawfully appropriated. Only if the Legislature chose to lengthen the time horizon for funds availability, could the Treasurer responsibly consider investing in higher yielding but somewhat more risky securities.
A separate but significant concern for voters should be the impact that high inflation, and the policies that drive it, is having on the real return on Colorado’s invested capital.
As Treasurer, how will you improve the funding of the Public Employees’ Retirement Association (PERA) retirement fund?
As an independent member of the PERA Board, I will work to preserve and protect PERA for members, while treating taxpayers fairly. Having played a key role in bipartisan PERA reforms, and having served for the last three years on the legislative subcommittee overseeing PERA, I know how important it is for our retirees, our taxpayers and our state’s finances to keep PERA on an improving trajectory. This includes adhering to the 2018 reforms, continuing to review key assumptions, continuing to fund PERA as required by law, and communicating candidly with PERA members. We should pay back the funds that were withheld from PERA in 2020, including lost returns, and consider using one-time dollars to further pay down PERA’s liability.
How do you believe that Colorado’s debt policy and debt management can be improved?
Colorado’s constitution limits the state’s ability to enter into general obligation debt, and this limitation on the issuance of debt generally has served the state well. There are, however, times when the issuance of debt does make sense, and in these cases, it is important to closely involve the Treasury. Most other state departments have little to no expertise in debt issuance or management, so having the Treasury serve as the state’s central debt manager makes good sense. At present, state enterprises are exempt from Treasury oversight of their issuances of debt. It may make sense to revisit this policy, to see if having the Treasury manage their debt issuances will result in more favorable transaction terms.
Colorado’s Unclaimed Property Division has over $500,000,000 in unclaimed property. What changes would you make as Treasurer to ensure that this property is returned to its rightful owners?
The answer to this question is complicated, so this response addresses only one of several potential reforms. The state’s unclaimed property division doesn’t actually have over $500M in unclaimed property; rather, it has over $500M in potential claims, but only holds sufficient funds in reserve to pay expected claims. Currently, if everyone actually claimed their rightful property, the Treasury could not actually honor them all. I would seek to change the law so that the Treasury retained all unclaimed property to ensure it could pay all the claims, and only transfer the interest above that level to the state for appropriation. This would encourage efforts to work harder to find those who are the rightful property owners.
How can the Treasury do a better job at both financial transparency and preventing the fraudulent use of public funds?
Regarding Transparency, the Treasurer has two key roles. First, to ensure that Treasury department activities are fully transparent and publicly available, including details on the Treasury’s investment of state funds and on how the programs administered by the Treasury are spending taxpayer dollars. The second role is for the Treasurer, as a state-wide elected official, to strongly advocate on behalf of taxpayers for other government entities to provide high levels of transparency. Regarding Fraud, the unfortunate reality is that under current law, the Treasurer has essentially no authority, other than the bully pulpit, to prevent the fraudulent use of funds. The State Controller’s office validates contracts and approves procurements, and once approved, the Treasurer’s office must remit the funds.
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