BUCKHANNON — On his way to present a sizeable unclaimed property check to the City of Thomas Tuesday afternoon, West Virginia State Treasurer Riley Moore stopped by The Record Delta to discuss the progress his office has made on several important initiatives during his first term.
In a heavy legislative agenda this year, Treasurer Moore said nine bills he introduced were signed into law. Perhaps the crowning achievement to date was the implementation of HB 2001, better known as his Jumpstart Savings Plan, which Moore campaigned on and saw to the finish line. The Jumpstart Savings Plan was especially important to him after realizing how such a program could have been instrumental in starting his own career as a welder. Moore emphasized, “I’m trying to mitigate that risk and remove those barriers for people to actually make that jump.”
The program will allow individuals coming into trade, technical or community college to save money they can use after graduation for tools, equipment, licenses and certifications. According to Moore, the Jumpstart Savings Act allows anyone wishing to pursue a vocation or trade to contribute up to $25,000 annually in a tax-free savings and investment account that can be used towards business startup costs and things needed for their occupation. “Everyone is really excited for this program to come on,” Moore stated as he explained the immense benefits of a savings plan that will set students up for success upon completing their trade or technical education.
The E-Pay Bill is another of Moore’s initiatives that he said has gained wide approval. “It’s going to mandate every political subdivision, as we call it in government—that means town, municipality, county, state agency—to offer an online payment option. Not only that, but to come under our emergent service contract, which is a very low rate of 1.7%,” the Treasurer explained as he mentioned some municipalities that have existing online payment services, but said those conveniences often come at a higher price. “We’re trying to provide a convenience for the people of West Virginia and at a very low cost. So, this will save them money, save the county money, and save the taxpayer money,” Moore asserted.
The new Hope Scholarship program is also gaining national attention and Moore wants to ensure everyone has the necessary information to see if it works for them. This educational savings account gives parents the choice to use part of their per-pupil expenditure ($4,600 this year) from the state School Aid Formula for educational expenses such as private school tuition, home tutoring, learning aids and other acceptable expenses. Moore’s office will administer the Hope Scholarship program once it becomes available in July 2022. Visit wvtreasury.com/hopescholarship online for answers to frequently asked questions and to follow the program’s progress.
His push against the Biden administration’s efforts to interfere with private bank lending to the coal and natural gas industries was another topic of focus during the meeting with Treasurer Moore on Tuesday. “By no means am I saying let’s prop up coal, gas, oil, or any of those fossil fuel industries. What I’m saying is I want it to be an even and fair playing field,” Moore expressed. “If solar panels become the new wave of technology, let the market decide that.”
That’s why Treasurer Moore is leading a coalition along with 14 other State Treasurers from across the country to oppose what he referred to as the Biden administration’s attempt to pressure banks into divesting from fossil fuels that would financially cripple these industries and damage the livelihoods of West Virginians. “Listen big banks of the world… you’re not going to be dealing with our money if you are diametrically opposed to our economy and our people, our way of life and the living that we’re trying to make. We are just asking for an even playing field for our industries and our people,” Moore stated, as he explained that West Virginia does have an opportunity to have some of these renewable companies come in here and compete. “And that’s fine, that’s the way the free market works. That’s all we want is the free market to remain free. The people of this state elected me to fight for them and that is what I am going to do,” Treasurer Moore emphasized.
Circling back to his mission of the day, Moore talked briefly about his goal to return all unclaimed property to its rightful owners across the state. His office was proud to deliver a $63,064.49 check to the City of Thomas on Tuesday evening, which reportedly originated from several stale-dated checks. Treasurer Moore reminds everyone to visit the Unclaimed Property search feature online at www.wvtreasury.com to see if you have unclaimed funds. He added, “This is your money and we want to get it back to you.”
Treasurer Moore’s office has already reportedly saved and returned millions of dollars through cost saving mechanisms. He concluded, “We were able to return $15 million in my first year to the State of West Virginia. We cut our general revenue budget by 5.5% out of the gate. We are trying to be leaner and meaner and more effective with less dollars. We are trying to practice what we preach. We ran on this stuff and that’s what I am going to do.”