As part of a movement to promote Financial Literacy Month, Arizona State Treasurer Kimberly Yee signed a proclamation April 8 affirming the month-long remembrance to advance what she calls “the big picture.”
Yee said as children become adults, some don't know how to manage their own personal finances. She is an advocate for teaching financial responsibility at a young age. Yee expounds on her responsibility and the importance of her job.
"So you have people who don’t pay off their credit cards, they go into debt, they go into a crisis situation, they have to borrow money and pay it back and if they can’t pay it back, they’re finding themselves in a real crisis," Yee said. "That affects our housing market because individuals can’t pay off their mortgages and then you have homes that are foreclosed upon. If you look at the 7 million Americans who can’t pay their car payments on time, that’s going to affect the economy.”
Yee is referring to her most recent bill, Senate Bill 1184. SB 1184 addresses youth finance concerns by ensuring high school students receive financial education. More specifically, SB 1184 requires students in high school economics classes to have an understanding of personal financial management.
Yee said the current curriculum only services these financial needs by offering electives, which by not being required automatically leaves out a good portion of students that might benefit from the knowledge. The bill has been passed by the House, the Senate and has received bipartisan support, only needing a signature from the governor to pass into law.
Yee and her office manage $40 billion in the state agency’s cash flow and another $15 billion in assets under management. One of their many investments and funding for other investments comes from land sales, which are designated packages of land gifted by Congress set aside for the state of Arizona. Yee said anytime those state designated lands are sold, the proceeds are invested and returned and go directly to beneficiaries. She said if those sales were recorded for the purpose, those investments outperform Harvard, Brown, Cornell, Stanford and Yale when comparing return rates.
“The main focus is to protect the taxpayer and secondarily to help policymakers understand where the funds are going in and out of state agency’s, but also using the office as a platform to talk about very important issues," Yee said. "For me, it’s our children.”
In her proclamation, the statistics discuss millennials, ages 18 to 34, as one in eight who have debt. She noted that outstanding student loan debts are at $1.46 trillion as of 2018, linking to the difference in 2017, where the number was $1.38 trillion.
“I feel like we can capture kids who are in our K-12 system, particularly in our high schools before they graduate into the real world, to help them understand that the money in your pocket, you can manage that responsibly," Yee said. "But we have to have the coursework in our schools to help them understand that before they get out into the real world. I feel like that’s a basic life skill."