State Trea­surer Yee talks first-year ac­com­plish­ments, as­sist­ing Yuma


The first year of Ari­zona State Trea­surer Kim­berly Yee’s fouryear term wrapped up in Jan­uary 2020, and Yee stopped by the Yuma Sun of­fices to re­flect on what worked for her and what role she can play for Yuma.

The Ari­zona state trea­surer man­ages the pub­lic money the state col­lects through taxes and pub­lic land sales. Along with man­ag­ing pub­lic money, the trea­surer’s job is also to pro­tect and in­vest the money.

Among the ac­com­plish­ments Yee high­lighted from her first year is the in­crease in the Ari­zona Trea­sury’s as­sets un­der management, which rep­re­sents the value of the in­vest­ments made with money that the trea­surer man­ages. In one year, trea­sury statis­tics say, the value of in­vest­ments by Ari­zona’s Trea­sury has in­creased by $2.5 bil­lion.

One as­set that the Trea­sury wards and man­ages is the Per­ma­nent Land En­dow­ment Trust Fund, an in­vest­ment of money col­lected through the sale of state land. The state dis­trib­utes earn­ings from that trust fund through­out the K-12 pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem. Ac­cord­ing to Ari­zona Trea­sury statis­tics, the value of that trust fund in­creased by $426 mil­lion in the first quar­ter of 2019, and the amount dis­trib­uted to K-12 schools in fis­cal year 2019 in­creased by $21 mil­lion for a to­tal of $342 mil­lion.

Both of those in­creases hap­pened dur­ing Yee’s first year in of­fice.

Yee said part of her mis­sion as trea­surer is “to do more with Ari­zona’s money,” while com­mit­ting to a fi­nan­cial phi­los­o­phy she calls “safety be­fore liq­uid­ity be­fore yield.”

The trea­surer also talked about what she did and plans to do for Yuma as state trea­surer. She em­pha­sized that she plans to fre­quently visit Yuma and stay in close con­tact with com­mu­nity groups and or­ga­ni­za­tions to know what they want and com­mu­ni­cate that across a state level.

“We’re al­ways look­ing for ways we can part­ner with lo­cal groups in Yuma like the Cham­ber of Com­merce and the [Greater Yuma Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Co­op­er­a­tion],” she said. “Hav­ing been a state leg­is­la­tor, we have great re­la­tion­ships and con­nec­tions. We know that if a need is to be met in Yuma, we can insert that into a dis­cus­sion in Phoenix.”

Yee pointed out that her first year in of­fice wasn’t con­fined to her of­fice in Phoenix. She said she trav­eled to all 15 coun­ties and met with lo­cal lead­ers and groups there. Her in­ten­tion, she said, is to serve Ari­zona by pay­ing at­ten­tion to lo­cal needs and how they fit into what she sees at a state level.

“You have to look at pock­ets of the state in­di­vid­u­ally, not all of them are the same, you can’t talk about them the same way,” she said. “When you men­tion is­sues like trans­porta­tion, it may be an is­sue in Yuma, whereas it may not be im­por­tant in more ur­ban ar­eas.”

She said she sees Yuma as a vi­tal eco­nomic player for the state, es­pe­cially when look­ing at busi­ness gen­er­ated by agri­cul­ture. The health of Yuma’s agri­cul­ture sec­tor has con­trib­uted to her sense of what makes good eco­nomic pol­icy, she said.

“Yuma is a crit­i­cal area for agribusi­ness,” she said. “We look at the ex­ports and see what it means for in­ter­na­tional trade and for var­i­ous states. We pay at­ten­tion to that when we’re hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions with busi­ness own­ers and grow­ers, and we’re lis­ten­ing to what works for them.”

Yee still has three years left in of­fice. Her most re­cent visit to Yuma was part of a tour an­nounc­ing the pas­sage of a fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy bill that would re­quire fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy classes in high schools.


ARI­ZONA STATE TREA­SURER KIM­BERLY YEE dis­cusses her first year in of­fice dur­ing an in­ter­view in the Yuma Sun news­room.

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