New NAST president focused on supporting muni finance

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WASHINGTON — National Association of State Treasurers President David Damschen will be focused on supporting states and localities in 2019, with an emphasis on infrastructure funding.

Damschen, who is Utah's treasurer, replaced Vermont State Treasurer Beth Pearce as NAST president Jan. 1, according to a press release. NAST elected its executive committee last October during the association’s annual meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Damschen said he wants to empower state and local governments as they look to solve their financial challenges.

“I appreciate Vermont State Treasurer Beth Pearce for her stewardship as president over the last year and I look forward to working with her, the new executive committee, and all of our NAST members as we continue to advocate for policies that benefit the public’s finances in Washington D.C. and around the country,” Damschen said in a release.

For 2019, Damschen said he is concerned about the 2017 tax reform and its elimination of advance refunding — when bond issuances are used to pay off another outstanding bond, replaced with a lower interest rate. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminated the ability of muni issuers to advance refund on a tax-exempt basis.

“Those savings are driven right back into infrastructure,” Damschen said. “It's a little bit incongruent for us to recognize nationally a critical need for investment infrastructure and at the same time do anything to tie the hand of state and local representatives.”

As a new Congress rolls in, Damschen said NAST will take a wait and see approach and are optimistic about an infrastructure package. But he said he wants to help grow federal loan programs like the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act and the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act. WIFIA provides low-interest loans and loan guarantees to water infrastructure projects.

Damschen also said he wants to work to expand and protect 529 plans and Achieving A Better Life Experience Act savings plans. ABLE accounts are tax-advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities and their families.

Some other new NAST committee members include Senior Vice President Deborah Goldberg who is Massachusetts Treasurer and Secretary-Treasurer Kelly Mitchell, who is Indiana Treasurer. Pearce remains on the committee as immediate past president.

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