two adult children, long-term partner
As a graduate of our public schools, including Arizona State University where I received both a law degree and Master of Business Administration degree, I have witnessed a change in the commitment politicians have to our students and teachers from then to now.
Recently, our state treasurers have been more concerned with lining their pockets and climbing the political ladder than holding the establishment accountable for their budgeting decisions.
We need perspective and an independent voice in the treasurer’s office as our state constitution intended.
As a local small business owner and 30-year attorney focusing on property tax enforcement, I am committed to being the “watchdog” in an office that for too long has let politicians get away with bad budgets and self-dealing.
Proposition 123 in 2016 was an unsatisfactory resolution to the legislature’s failure to do its job. Touted by Governor Ducey as a “first step” to restoring education funding, the proposition depended on robbing future students’ educational resources to partially make up for deficiencies in years of ignored funding obligations. This is not sound policy, it's looting.
Arizona needs a more balanced revenue formula, to avoid over-reliance and vulnerability that our current dependence on sales tax revenue creates. And we need to restore necessary legislative power to our state legislature, correcting a state constitutional amendment from 1992 that has not served the state well. “Fiscal responsibility” requires attention to government revenues, not just expenses.
Mortgaging state buildings is a symptom of failed public fiscal policy. That the state was unable to borrow without securing the debt against real property reflects a lack of confidence in our ability to repay the debt.
As treasurer, I would oppose the kind of reckless tax spending that made the state so vulnerable to the recession.
As a long-term solution directed toward greater tax fairness, I would advocate review and sunsetting of many of the $14 billion in corporate sales tax exemptions. This would allow spreading the tax burden more broadly, while decreasing actual sales tax rates. Additionally, I support re-balancing sources of revenue to lessen our state’s vulnerability to an economic downturn.
Arizona’s credit rating was lowered in 2009 in part because of the state’s “inability to raise revenue.” That’s referring to the 1992 state constitutional amendment that requires a 2/3 super-majority vote in both house of the legislature to raise revenue, which includes cancelling previous corporate tax giveaways. Until we can rectify this I will use my power as treasurer to hold the governor and legislature accountable for properly funding vital services.
The $1.8 trillion 2017 federal tax cut may stimulate the economy in the short-term, but it will come at a cost. The Federal Reserve is now increasing interest rates on a regular basis, and the President has initiated trade wars with our country’s partners; these factors will increase consumers’ and small business borrowing costs as well as the cost of goods. Thus, after the brief “cotton candy” stimulative effect of the tax cuts, I expect our state economy to suffer yet another recession, inflationary pressure and devaluation of financial (and retirement) assets.
We need to build our wealth locally so that our communities aren’t ravaged by these Wall Street-influenced economic trends. By establishing a robust community banking system in our state, those cities and towns long left behind by the establishment can have access to lending power again. We also need to have the tough conversations about revenue, so our state isn’t fighting the next downturn with one hand behind its back.
First and foremost, it’s time for corporations to pay their fair share so we aren’t subsidizing them on the backs of students and workers’ hard earned retirement. We need leaders who are bold enough to take on these greedy corporations and have the real revenue conversations we desperately need to meet our obligations. We don’t want to see another lawsuit and debacle like Prop 123 for pensions.
The greatest threat to Arizona’s future is underestimating the importance of our public institutions, primarily education, and being vulnerable to economic downturns because of over-reliance on sales tax revenue. The institutions serve our community and enrich our lives and opportunities. We need to have the hard conversations about revenue and efficiency, and the treasurer should be a voice that holds the governor and legislature accountable for those decisions.
Married, 2 children
I am the only candidate who has worked in the Arizona State Treasurer's Office having worked on the executive team of former State Treasurer Dean Martin. I would uphold the office with honesty and integrity and protect Arizona taxpayers. Having firsthand experience in the office prepared me for the complexities of the position and the importance of maximizing the $15 billion in assets under management. I am a graduate of Pepperdine University and also have a Master's Degree in Public Administration from Arizona State University where I studied executive level management of public sector agencies and analysis of public budgeting. I also have the endorsement support of two former Republican governors, five former Arizona State Treasurers including Jeff DeWit, Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, over 42 legislators, members of Arizona's Congressional Delegation and many others which may be found at www.KimberlyYee.com.
I am the daughter of a retired Arizona public elementary school teacher who taught for 38 years, so I understood the need to address teacher pay and other education funding obligations under the proposition which is why I supported allowing the voters of Arizona to decide this question, which they ultimately adopted and passed. As a fiscal conservative, I had some fiscal policy concerns about the manner in which Proposition 123 would be financed through the State Land Trust endowment and expressed those concerns when this issue was being deliberated in the Arizona Legislature. My concerns were related to the funds coming from the principal of the endowment and breaking open the endowment that was set aside to fund future generations of Arizonans. As State Treasurer, I would faithfully uphold the obligation of the office to administer these funds as they are directed, even as the issue is currently being deliberated through the judicial system.
The Governor and Legislature's decision to pursue a sale and lease-back deal of the state buildings back in 2009 was to try to balance the state's budget and close the state's $3.2 billion shortfall. While it is sound fiscal policy in the sense that it was addressing and preserving the credit rating of the state with this investment approach while not raising taxes, it did create a stir of controversy at the time and the issue made national news. I would have preferred to reduce the size and scope of the bloated bureaucratic government agencies to the greatest extent possible and reduce any waste, fraud and duplication while protecting and maximizing the value of the taxpayer dollars.
Arizona should create a new task force to review and evaluate our current system and develop revenue-neutral recommendations on how our sales tax system can be simplified. I would support reforms to ease administrative barriers on individual taxpayers and reduce bureaucracy for filers. I would also improve compliance measures and ensure resources are available for a robust auditing system.
The State Treasurer may help to ensure a strong credit rating for Arizona by monitoring the state's revenues and providing regular budget forecasts. This is done formally as a member of the Finance Advisory Committee, but may also be done through regular updates and communication with executive statewide agencies and policymakers. By providing these regular budget updates, policymakers are able to have the best financial information possible as taxpayer dollars are appropriated and spent in each fiscal year. When Arizona maintains a strong, robust and healthy economy, the state can afford to pay down outstanding debt obligations. The State Treasurer may also encourage the executive and legislature to adopt a structurally balanced budget in each fiscal year to benefit to the state's credit rating.
The state and national economy will likely continue to grow given we have done well in recent years to bring more residents to our beautiful state of Arizona and creating more jobs with record-setting wage growth, and the national economy is growing with increases in hiring, employment and wages. With this trend, I would anticipate the debt level in Arizona will continue to see modest reductions in years to come.
The Legislature has spent the last couple of years working towards a bi-partisan effort to improve the financial health of our state pension system. Voters will be able to advance reforms in the elected officials retirement plan as well as the corrections officers retirement plan when they consider a ballot measure to be considered this November. There is much more to be done as not all of the state pension system plans have been considered for reform. It will be important to continue efforts to stop the practice of "salary spiking" towards the end of an individual's retirement for higher payouts and the practice of "double dipping" when an individual retires, then gets hired right back onto the same job while receiving retirement benefits, all on the taxpayer's dime.
The greatest threat to Arizona's future is missing an opportunity to best educate our children before they enter into the workplace. I would address this as State Treasurer by continuing my advocacy efforts to advance financial literacy and personal financial management in our schools. I have long held this passion and have gone into our classrooms to help children and students in universities be able to understand the importance of money management, savings and maximizing the money that they earn. My work to advance financial literacy has created new laws that require children in all grade levels to have basic personal financial management in the state's academic standards and students may now graduate with a special diploma recognizing their advanced proficiency in financial education.