Maine treasurer-elect looks toward challenges
An attorney and former lawmaker tapped as the next Maine treasurer is focused on maintaining the state’s bond ratings.
Henry Beck, who served in the Maine House of Representatives for eight years through 2016, was elected to the state treasurer post by the Democrat-controlled legislature last week. The 32-year-old Beck, a Democrat, will replace independent Terry Hayes when he is sworn into office on Jan. 8.
Beck said a major priority as treasurer will be tacking the state’s workforce and demographic challenges because they are long-term threats to the state’s bond ratings. Maine general obligation bonds are rated Aa2 by Moody’s Investors Service and AA by S&P Global Ratings.
“I’m hopeful for an improved rating, but I’m happy where we are,” said Beck, who was first elected to the Maine House of Representatives during his senior year at Colby College. “All Maine elected leaders must focus on our state's workforce and age demographic challenges.”
Beck said there will be “significant focus” on bringing voter-authorized bonds to the market this spring following years of Gov. Paul LePage resisting efforts to advance borrowing plans. The term-limited LePage will be replaced by Democratic Attorney General Janet Mills, who captured the gubernatorial election over Republican candidate Shawn Moody and Hayes, who ran as an independent.
“I expect the transition to go very smoothly,” said Hayes, who prior to her election as treasurer in 2014 spent eight years in the Maine House of Representatives as a Democrat. “I worked with Henry for six years in the legislature and he will do a great job.”
Beck spent just over two years as an associate attorney at Jabar LaLiberty & Dubord before joining McKee Law in Augusta as an associate in 2017. At McKee, Beck has represented clients facing criminal charges as well as business disputes, insurance matters and tax litigation.
Before entering the Maine legislature, Beck spent five years as a Waterville City Councilman from 2005 to 2009. After graduating Colby during his first year in the legislature, Beck attended the University of Maine School of Law and graduated on time while juggling his state lawmaker commitments. He authored laws related to malpractice insurance, pharmacy audits, workers compensation rules, adoption procedures, liquor regulation and standards of care at birthing facilities.
“I’m very excited for this new role,” said Beck, who previously chaired Maine's Joint Standing Committee on Insurance and Financial Services. “I’m appreciative and honored for this opportunity.”
Hayes said she is happy with the state's credit conditions as she winds down her fourth year as treasurer. She said Maine's low population growth creates a large barrier toward getting a bond rating upgrade and is satisfied to hold serve at a high investment grade level. S&P and Moody’s both revised the state’s credit outlook to stable from negative in 2014 and 2012, respectively.
“We’re in much better fiscal circumstances than in years past,” said Hayes. “We’re holding our own and competing with states of a similar size.”