Washington state Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti is anything but the stuffy, old fellow one pictures from a statewide elected whose job is to handle money.
His energy was visible to constituents during a statewide tour that began in April this year and wrapped up in Lincoln County earlier this week.
“For too many across Washington, the day-to-day business conducted in Olympia may feel distant and disconnected from the lives of the people we serve,” said Pellicciotti in a news release. “It wasn’t uncommon as I traveled the state and met with local officials and community organizations over these past months to learn it was their first time hearing about the critical role our office can play.”
The release noted the treasurer attended 121 meetings and events across all 39 counties, including with civic organizations; state legislators; labor unions; city, county and tribal governmental leaders; local media; chambers of commerce; port officials; educational leaders; and more.
In Lewis County, the treasurer met with the Chehalis Rotary Club and The Chronicle, he said last month. He was trying to ramp up excitement on a baby bonds program called the “Washington Future Fund” to allow underprivileged Washington youth the chance to cash in scholarships for help with a business, homeownership or school as they come of age.
The program would set aside $4,000 for every Apple Health-funded birth (Washington’s Medicaid program) in the state.
“That's actually about 47% of births in the state,” Pellicciotti told The Chronicle. “In rural communities, it's closer to two out of three. And in several rural counties it's close to three out of four. Lewis County would be one that would disproportionately benefit, for example.”
He spoke of inflation, housing crises and the need for rural economic development — a topic he has a master’s degree in from Gonzaga University — as common themes throughout every county in Washington. The program, he said, seeks to safeguard future generations’ battle against those three issues by helping them pay for education, promoting home ownership and increasing business opportunities.
“These challenges, though at times daunting, are a strong reminder of the common interests we all share to make Washington a livable and thriving state where opportunity isn’t limited by region or financial means,” said Pellicciotti in the release.
So far, the program has received bipartisan support, he said.
Learn more about the Washington Future Fund and the state treasurer at https://tre.wa.gov/wff-in-the-budget/.