State treasurer speaks with Demopolis Rotary

Published 3:22 pm Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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Alabama Treasurer Young Boozer addresses Demopolis Rotary club members Wednesday.

Alabama Treasurer Young Boozer spoke to the Demopolis Rotary Club on Wednesday.

Boozer outlined his responsibilities as treasurer and challenges he has faced since coming into office in January 2011.

“I love my job and thank you for hiring me,” said Boozer, who is a member of the Montgomery Rotary Club.

One challenge Boozer faced when he came into office was fixing Alabama’s Prepaid Affordable College Tuition (or PACT) program, which was on the verge of collapse.

“It’s a shame what happened to that program. It was a noble concept, but it was never going to work,” Boozer said.

While PACT made a modest 4.5 percent on investment returns, two economic downturns and ever-rising tuition was more than the program could handle, according to Boozer.

“The thing was in a death spiral,” he said.

PACT officials reached a settlement with contract holders that was approved by the Alabama Supreme Court to pay 2010 tuition rates until the last student comes through the program, which is expected to be in 2032. PACT enrollment has been closed since 2008.

“The last child gets the last dollar on the last day,” Boozer said.

As Alabama’s treasurer, Boozer sits on 25-30 different boards and authorities and manages the state’s bonds, which have a combined principal and interest of $5.3 billion.

His office also works with the Alabama 529 College Counts Fund that was created in 2002.

Unlike PACT paying tuition to colleges and universities, the 529 fund allows individuals to participate in a personal investment program and then make future withdrawals to pay for tuition, fees, books and other education costs.

“It’s the best way to save for a child’s or grandchild’s college education that exists today,” Boozer said.

His office also oversees a need-based college scholarship program that awards students $4,000 or $2,000 to get them started in college.

Boozer concluded by talking about managing unclaimed property. Each year, millions of dollars in assets are turned over to the Alabama Treasurer’s Office by financial institutions and businesses that lose contact with the owners.

Boozer encouraged club members to visit www.moneyquestalabama.com to see if they are owed any money.

“Nothing gives us more pleasure than reuniting people with their money,” Boozer said.