Editorial: For Treasurer: Seth Magaziner
Though the position gets relatively little attention, general treasurer is one of the most important of Rhode Island’s statewide elected offices. The treasurer manages taxpayers’ money — an important trust — and makes investments in the state’s future. Using his or her bully pulpit, a treasurer can affect generations of Rhode Islanders.
For these reasons we enthusiastically endorse the re-election bid of General Treasurer Seth Magaziner. Mr. Magaziner, a Democrat, has demonstrated the competence, wisdom and farsightedness to merit a second term.
Mr. Magaziner has taken a leading role in helping to design and promote Question 1, the school-infrastructure bond that we enthusiastically wrote about on Sunday (“Vote yes on Question 1,” October 13). That well-designed bond measure, if passed, will help fix Rhode Island’s deteriorating public schools.
The treasurer has advanced this measure while arguing for fiscal prudence, noting that other debt is being paid off and making the case that providing safe and warm schools should be a priority for new borrowing. Mr. Magaziner has insisted that use of the money be accompanied by wise local decisions to consolidate schools and perform ongoing maintenance.
Similarly, Mr. Magaziner fixed Rhode Island’s college savings program, another example of his taking steps to shore up critical programs that aid young people. When he took office, the state’s 529 college savings plan — which lets parents and others save for college tuition, tax-free — was ranked one of the worst in the country, so poorly managed with high fees, poor returns, and bad service that Morningstar eventually refused to issue it a ranking altogether.
Mr. Magaziner rebuilt the program, firing its manager and bringing in a new vendor to administer it. Today, it is consistently ranked as one of the top 529 programs in the country, with low fees, excellent customer service, and a broad array of investment options. Nearly 20,000 Rhode Islanders have accounts.
The treasurer has also been a careful ward of the people’s money. His “Back to Basics” plan, keyed to a stronger economy, moved pension dollars from high-fee hedge funds into more traditional investment strategies, such as index funds. Lifted by the booming stock market, the state’s pension fund has prospered: It has earned about $1.5 billion in the two years since the state adopted Back to Basics.
Mr. Magaziner has also benefited the Rhode Island economy with his BankLocal program, which moved millions of dollars of the state’s money into local banks and credit unions that in turn make loans to small businesses here.
Mr. Magaziner is being half-heartedly challenged by Republican Michael Riley, who last month told his supporters not to bother to volunteer for, or donate to, his campaign. That seems like good advice. Mr. Magaziner has earned a second term.