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The Denver Post:
Walker Stapleton should get second term

Editorial
The Denver Post

"Stapleton has a proven record of accomplishment that should earn him a second term.

After Stapleton discovered that 18 state agencies with varying degrees of expertise had independent powers to issue bonds, he spearheaded an effort to reform the process. Experts from the treasurer's office now have a greater role, he explains, while safeguards are in place to ensure that best practices are followed in issuing bonds.

Stapleton also points with pride to how his office refinanced the state's unemployment insurance, saving employers, he says, $150 to $200 per worker.

Voters should also appreciate Stapleton's efforts on behalf of transparency and fiscal prudence for the Colorado Public Employees' Retirement Association. By contrast, Markey described a lawsuit Stapleton filed seeking pension data as a "witch hunt," even though the treasurer sits on PERA's board and had pledged not to make any data public.

Stapleton lost his lawsuit, but it was a battle worth waging — and one that voters should appreciate."
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Treasurer Candidate Markey fails
Public Finance 101, again

Press Release

DENVER, CO— During this past weekend’s debate, moderated by KDVR’s Eli Stokols, candidate for Colorado Treasurer and former Congresswoman Betsy Markey failed to answer a simple question about public finance.  When asked to give a simple definition of a yield curve, she was unable to respond and desperately tried to change the subject. This should be of great concern to Colorado voters. The primary job of the State Treasurer is to oversee Colorado’s $9 billion investment portfolio, and to execute large financial transactions for the state. This is the second example during this campaign of Markey showing little grasp of the duties of the Treasurer’s office, and of public finance more broadly. 

“This was not a difficult or obscure financial term; yield curves are looked at everyday in the Treasurer’s office and help guide the decisions on investments and financing options. This is public finance 101,” stated Stapleton’s campaign manager Michael Fortney. “Betsy Markey, who is asking voters to elect her as the overseer of Colorado’s finances, once again displayed that she does not have the background or the knowledge to effectively serve as Colorado Treasurer.”
 
This is not the first time that Markey has displayed a disturbingly thin understanding of finance and the Treasurer’s office.  This past spring, as documented by a Denver Post reporter, Markey attacked Treasurer Stapleton for getting lesser returns on the state’s investment portfolio than his predecessor in the office. This declaration exhibited a complete lack of understanding of bond markets and Colorado investment statutes.

The Colorado Treasurer's office manages around $9 billion in taxpayer money.  Under Colorado law, the state’s tax dollars are invested in U.S. Treasuries or bonds, not in the stock market.  The yield on these bonds is impacted by interest rates as dictated by the Federal Reserve. Bonds do not respond directly to macroeconomic performance, as the stock market does.

Treasurer Stapleton's investment portfolio has beaten benchmark returns every year since he assumed office.  These benchmarks are set by the 12-month moving average of a constant maturity yield of 2-year treasury notes, again, dictated by interest rates, not the overall economy. 

"Markey has now demonstrated, twice, that she has a disqualifying low understanding of public finance. Frankly, Colorado voters should be frightened to hand the keys of such an important office over to someone with such a lack of command of basic finance,” concluded Fortney.

Before being elected Treasurer in 2010, Stapleton spent his career in the private sector, serving as chief financial officer and chief executive officer of various private and publicly held companies. Stapleton has a bachelor’s degree from Williams College, a graduate degree from the London School of Economics, and an MBA from Harvard University.

KOA's Mike Rosen discusses the importance of understanding basic finance for anyone hoping to beTreasurer

Pueblo Chieftain Endorses Walker Stapleton for Treasurer
Editorial
The Pueblo Chieftain

In his first term, State Treasurer Walker Stapleton certainly shook up the state’s financial systems — in an important and significant way.

The incumbent Republican consolidated state debt; refinanced Colorado’s unemployment insurance program to save businesses money; led a bipartisan initiative that allowed counties to continue investing in U.S. Treasuries after the downgrade of U.S. credit ratings and helped qualifying charter and rural schools secure loans. He crusaded against Amendment 66 — a failed proposal that would have increased the state income tax in order to generate revenue for education — because there was no guarantee in the ballot language that the money would have gone to schools rather than the Public Employees’ Retirement Association fund.

Mr. Stapleton, a former businessman, is making his first bid for reelection this fall. He is challenged for his seat by Democratic hopeful Betsy Markey, a businesswoman, former federal employee and one-term member of the U.S. House representing Colorado’s 4th district.

But perhaps Mr. Stapleton’s greatest accomplishment came in the form of a hard-fought battle to cast light upon and to reform the state’s dysfunctional retirement system. As treasurer, Mr. Stapleton sits on the PERA board, but he was denied comparative information related to pension information. When his formal requests for non-identifying information were repeatedly ignored, Mr. Stapleton took PERA to court.

Today, he has ambitious plans to repair and reform the program, which is hemorrhaging taxpayer funds in the forms of unwieldy debt burdens. Mr. Stapleton proposes a proactive approach to the problem that spreads the burden of repairs across all stakeholders.

Mr. Stapleton has demonstrated the strong leadership and the long-term vision to solve the state’s most-pressing financial problems. During his first term, he repeatedly reached across the aisle and across state agencies to create and promote fiscally sound policies, and he has worked with state lawmakers to develop solid financial legislation. For these reasons, our endorsement goes to Walker Stapleton.

Stapleton for treasurer - Grand Junction Sentinel
Editorial
The Daily Sentinel

Walker Stapleton’s concern (some would call it an “obsession”) with the long-term health of the pension fund for retired state workers has seemingly turned the race for state treasurer into a single-issue referendum.

Which is unfortunate because Stapleton, the incumbent Republican, has done more than just grouse about unfunded liabilities associated with the Colorado Public Employees Retirement Association.

For example, his office — in an effort to consolidate Colorado’s debt-issuance process — was able to tally how much debt state agencies have taken on. Previously, that information hadn’t been tracked or readily available. By coordinating the bonding among 18 state agencies, he says his office saved Colorado millions and made the state more fiscally responsible.

He also led an effort to refinance Colorado’s unemployment insurance, saving businesses $150 a head. Both issues enjoyed bipartisan support in the Legislature. He cited a warm relationship with Gov. John Hickenlooper as further evidence of his ability to develop bipartisan common-sense solutions to fiscal problems.

Fiscal policy may be the least interesting aspect of government, but it’s clearly a passion for the Harvard-educated Stapleton, who acknowledges the structural imbalance of the state fiscal system created by conflicting constitutional mandates.

That’s why he says he’s been an advocate of reforming PERA; so that unfunded liabilities don’t eat into general fund revenues that are increasingly under strain to meet necessary expenditures.

Under Stapleton leadership, the state has beaten benchmarks in investing taxpayer dollars.

His opponent, Democrat Betsy Markey, has no issues with how Stapleton handles the state’s investments, but credits career staff for the agency’s track record.

Markey, a former congresswoman who represented the Eastern Plains in 2008-09, is running on a platform of greater transparency, more innovation, higher visibility and less rancor with PERA, which passed its annual financial checkup in August with no significant deficiencies.

We think the state treasurer’s office has performed admirably with Stapleton’s hands at the wheel and see no reason to make a change. We urge voters to re-elect Stapleton.

Durango Herald: Stapleton for treasurer
Editorial
The Durango Herald

The office of Colorado state treasurer is best known for two things: its involvement with the state’s Public Employee Retirement Association and as a stepping stone to higher office. To Walker Stapleton’s credit he has (so far at least) focused on the former.

He deserves to be re-elected.

Stapleton, a Republican, is opposed by Democrat Betsy Markey. She is a smart, educated woman with top-notch experience in both business and government, including having represented Colorado’s 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House.

Markey would doubtless be a good treasurer. Her problem is she cannot point to what is wrong with the one we have.

Walker Stapleton has overseen positive gains in Colorado’s investment portfolio every quarter he has served. He saved money by consolidating the state’s debt issuing process in the Treasurer’s office. He has consistently advocated a fiscally conservative approach to managing PERA, helping to ensure the plan’s viability.

Stapleton has also pushed for greater transparency from PERA, which has denied him data he says will help him in his job. That PERA would refuse him data about the pension plan reinforces the idea that he is on the right track.

Vote for Walker Stapleton.

Stapleton knows Colo.’s economic concerns
Editorial
The Durango Herald

Colorado’s state treasurer is well-known for his concern that the pension promises made to state employees are too magnanimous and will fall short, obligating the state’s general fund to make up the difference. That expecting a year-after-year 8 percent return in the investment marketplace is unrealistic, and when combined with current employee and state payroll contributions will not sustain the defined benefit plan’s payouts.

It is a situation that exists to different degrees in almost all states and is frequently in the news.

But Walker Stapleton, the great-grandson of Denver’s mayor whose name was attached to Denver’s previous close-in airport, has broader concerns about the state’s fiscal direction. He is pleased with a couple of recent accomplishments but is also quick to say that the Legislature is not spending the energy it should on fiscal issues. Fiscal issues are complex, and too frequently are viewed in too short a time frame, he says.

Stapleton, a Republican, has had a career in real-estate development and finance, and is articulate in his arguments.

On the plus side, Stapleton is complimentary of legislation that passed in a strong bipartisan fashion a year ago to require the coordination of the bonding – the certificates of participation, in the jargon – that state agencies offer to fund capital construction. That coordination, among public colleges and universities, or between colleges and another state agency, for example, strengthens the appeal of every offering to lending institutions and thus lowers costs. The ongoing tally also makes clear just how much debt, and what kind, has been created. That had not easily been known.
Read more...

State treasurer saves us from bad investment
The Gazette editorial

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton lives in a world of numbers, math and economic principles. Numbers speak truth, which is not what some other politicians want. So they've tried to marginalize Stapleton as a man out of step. Their only problem doubles as Stapleton's greatest asset: Truth surfaces. Quickly, sometimes.

Stapleton was the state's chief crusader against Amendment 66, a massive tax increase rejected by more than 65 percent of Colorado voters. He repeatedly warned against investing $1 billion a year into education without a solution to the crisis looming for Colorado's Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA), which includes teachers. Stapleton didn't see a way government could stop Amendment 66 from bailing out PERA, an outdated, underfunded, defined-benefit retirement program based on unrealistic dividend hopes.
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PERA return rates need tweaking
By Walker Stapleton
Pueblo Chieftain Opinon

Entering an election year, Colorado voters can count on one constant: Any issue that is slightly contentious will be politicized to a point where finding any truth in the debate is akin to finding a needle in a haystack. This is an unfortunate byproduct of the hyper-partisan political environment that elected officials must operate in these days.

Colorado’s pension system, PERA, is one of the issues that people constantly try to politicize. Unfortunately, my call for the responsible reform of PERA, which is $26 billion in debt, is the target of much of this nonsense. The political rabble-rousers attempt to turn a math problem into a partisan political game, doing a severe disservice to Colorado’s 500,000 pensioners. They say my call for reasonable reforms is an excuse to cut the pensions of retired school teachers and other public workers. This is complete hogwash and is wholly untrue.

I would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight. If you are a current retiree, your retirement is safe. If you are a current employee planning for retirement, it is my goal to help protect your retirement by making sure we take the steps necessary to make sure the retirement that you have been counting on and working toward is there for you and your family.
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Treasurer Walker Stapleton urges parties to put aside politics for Colorado pension plan
The Denver Post/ The Spot blog
By Joey Bunch

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton is saying enough with the politics when it comes to pensions for state workers and teachers. Monday he sent a letter to Democrat and Republican leaders urging them to work together to fix Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association fund, which Stapleton contends is headed for a financial hole the size of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison — a Colorado landmark the National Park Service calls “deep,steep and narrow.”

The metaphor is mine, but it’s an apt description, given the past politics that created narrow solutions for the pension fund’s $23 billion-plus deficit, money needed to pay retirees over the next 30 years. At Walker’s insistence, the PERA board last month voted 8-7 to lower the projected rate of return on investments from 8 percent to a more conservative 7.5 percent. While it’s a step toward reality, it also will increase the projected deficit, at least on paper, since that estimate means less income from investments to help pay benefits.
Read more...

PERA transparency gets boost from Gov. Hickenlooper
The Denver Post editorial

For 2 ½ years, Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton has doggedly pursued data in the state pension system that he believes would help him better understand the Colorado Public Employees' Retirement Association's future liabilities.

In response, PERA has sought to portray Stapleton as a mischievous rogue rather than a dedicated public servant. Fortunately, that tactic has become a whole lot harder now that Gov. John Hickenlooper has joined Stapleton in asking the state Supreme Court to review an appeals court decision that denied the treasurer access to the data.

Stapleton is a Republican. Hickenlooper is a Democrat. Their joint cause in this case is good government.
Read more...

Colorado PERA lowers investment expectation to
7.5 percent return

The Denver Post
By Jennifer Brown

The board that oversees Colorado's pension fund for state employees narrowly voted Friday to lower its expectations on investments, the latest among many states reigning in long-term stock market assumptions.

Colorado's Public Employees' Retirement Association voted 8-7 to lower its expected rate of return on investments to 7.5 percent, down from 8 percent.

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton has urged the board for three years to lower its rate of return, warning of an eventual collapse and bailout of the pension system for 300,000 teachers and state workers.

The fund has $23 billion in unfunded liability — money it owes to current and future retirees over the next 30 years but does not have in its account today. Friday's vote means the pension fund's unfunded liability will increase by about $6 billion to $29 billion, Stapleton estimated.

The state will have to make up the shortfall through increased payments to the fund from school districts, cities and state government, he said.
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Treasurer Walker Stapleton announces re-election campaign and leadership team
Press Release

DENVER, CO—Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton announced today that he will seek re-election to serve a second term as Colorado’s Treasurer. First elected in 2010, Treasurer Stapleton has spent his first term successfully advocating fiscally responsible policies for Colorado.

During his first term, Treasurer Stapleton has used his post in the Treasurer’s office to put pro-jobs and pro-taxpayer policies in place. Among his many accomplishments are consolidating Colorado’s debt issuance process, which has already saved taxpayer money, and the refinancing of Colorado’s unemployment insurance saving businesses money and protecting jobs.

“Our accomplishments in the Treasurer’s office are not partisan or controversial but examples of common sense solutions for the taxpayers of Colorado,” stated Treasurer Stapleton. “My office is not concerned with grabbing headlines but rather we’ve focused on keeping our head down, safely investing taxpayers money, correcting inefficient government policies and serving Colorado’s taxpayers. During my second term, I will continue following these policies.” 
Read Full Press Release...

Stapleton legislation paying off for Coloradans
Summit Daily

Legislation written in 2012 by Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton is already making a positive impact on Colorado taxpayers, according to a treasurer’s office news release.
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