Money Talks – The Mena Star

Arkansas State Treasurer Dennis Milligan spoke to the Mena Rotary Club Thursday, June 15, about the accomplishments of the office and what it offers state residents.

“I was not expecting a very thrilling speech, to be honest,” said Rotary president Tiffany Lane. “But I can now honestly say that our Treasurer is an excellent speaker. I was entertained and informed. I’m looking forward to learning more about the programs he mentioned.”

Milligan said his goal is to be a good steward of the state’s coffers and to grow its balance by making wise investments.

“It’s like the parable of talents, we don’t just want to burry what we have.” he said. “We want to be wise and use what we have and turn it into more. My goal is for every dollar that is made through our investments, that should be one less dollar that taxpayers are paying.”

According to reports from the treasurer’s office, “Milligan has received some of the highest investment returns in the past decade on the state’s $3.5 billion portfolio.”

Milligan recently announced a milestone of $100 million has been made for the taxpayers of Arkansas in the two and a half years he has been in office.

The treasurer also toughed two programs offered through his office.

The Arkansas 529 Gift Plan and a financial literacy program.

“Our state is much more than a great place to live,” he said. “It is also a great place to save for college, vocational or trade school, thanks to the great investment program, AR 529 Gift Plan.”

With the Arkansas 529 Gift Plan, savings can grow tax-deferred through a wide variety of investment options. Later, the money can be withdrawn tax-free to pay for qualified higher education costs like tuition, room and board, and supplies at nearly any two- or four-year college, university, vocational or trade school.

“Of all the gifts you’ll give your child or grandchild, few will be more important than a college or vocational school education,” Milligan said. “This helps make college a reality for anyone who wants to pursue it for their children or grandchildren.”

The plan offers the flexibility to use the funds at any eligible, accredited public or private college, university, or trade school worldwide, up to a $5,000 Arkansas tax deduction ($10,000 for married couples), tax-free withdrawals for qualified expenses and an Automatic Investment Plan (AIP) for as little as $10/month.

“This makes investing really easy,” said Mulligan. “It doesn’t matter if you know a lot or very little about investments. Either way, the Arkansas 529 Gift Plan gives you several options for choosing the strategy that’s right for you, your child or grandchild and your particular situation.

Milligan is also excited about the financial literacy program being offered at no cost to Arkansas public schools.

“We partnered with EvrFi, a financial firm, and provide the materials for free,” he explained. “What is great about this is we are teaching fourth through sixth graders how to be good stewards of money and make wise financial decisions and they are going home and educating their parents.”

The treasure’s office reports only 26 percent of parents feel well prepared to teach children about basic personal finance. “Saving, budgeting, or even earning money may not be the primary focus of most preteens, but the financial knowledge they gain now will set the tone for decisions they make in the future,” Milligan said. “In fact, today’s economy makes teaching personal finance at an early age more important than ever. Gaining a basic understanding of personal finance will help young people find financial achievement, confidence, and well-being.”

For more information about programs offered by the treasurer’s office visit artreasury.gov or call 501-682-5888.

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