Washington State Treasurer Duane Davidson found a warm reception in Lewis County as he visited local leaders to talk about the efforts of his office and discuss upcoming policy issues.
“That was a very good meeting,” said county commissioner Bobby Jackson. “We’re very fortunate that we have state representatives from whatever office or department they come from to sit down with us and let us know how their offices are doing. We’re all connected, so as an arm of the state it’s nice to hear what’s going on.”
Davidson highlighted efforts from his office to promote financial literacy. While serving as treasurer, he’s reached out to a number of different groups to help them make smart financial choices.
The first group he targeted is the military, noting the surprising number of personal bankruptcies, especially among soldiers deployed overseas. He said he was surprised that he did not have to navigate many layers of bureaucracy to connect with military leaders, who were eager to implement the program. Davidson’s staff is now teaching financial literacy courses to soldiers in Washington.
Meanwhile, he noted that some communities have been victimized by fraudulent sellers while making large purchases, such as a mobile home that was sold to a family by a by an “owner” who didn’t actually have the title. Davidson’s office has put on public forums and produced radio ads — including on Spanish-speaking stations — letting residents know they can get free legal help before making major purchases.
Davidson has also launched an effort to help homeless youth get a free savings account, with the ability to monitor it online for free at local shelters. His office has also put 80 different financial literacy modules on its website.
“That is getting huge amount of traffic from schoolteachers, and it’s also a really big hit with the homeschoolers,” he said.
The state-run financing and investment pools for local governments have also been a priority for Davidson. He said the financing program has been well-run and is a great opportunity to obtain funding for projects. Lewis County Treasurer Arny Davis said the county has taken advantage of the program.
“There should be resources available to local governments,” Davidson said. “We have increased awareness of the program to help local governments out.”
The treasurer’s office has also launched the Washington Fund Directory, which helps cities, counties and districts navigate the different grants and funding opportunities that might be available for various projects.
“There were so many resources that nobody knew about,” he said. “That’s a problem — if nobody is informed.”
Looking ahead to policy concerns, Davidson said he is advocating for cannabis banking reform, saying current rules restricting the industry to a largely cash-only status has created issues with safety and transparency. He’s also keeping an eye on the state’s school-funding model, following ongoing transitions in the wake of the McCleary decision.
“He’s got a pretty good handle on what the state is doing, and he’s trying to speak to those things as best he can,” Jackson said. “It’s one thing we deeply appreciate about him, is he’s calling things the way he sees them. … It was really gracious of him to come down here and talk with us today, and it sounds like he’s got a lot of good ideas.”