LOS ANGELES – Public finance veteran Steve Juarez was appointed California's deputy treasurer in charge of economic development programs and higher education policy.
"Steve brings all the experience and talent necessary to help me strengthen and market more than a dozen economic development programs that are my responsibility as treasurer," State Treasurer John Chiang said Friday. "These boards, commissions and authorities provide small and large businesses, non-profit organizations, hospitals, educational institutions, recyclers and pollution-control agencies with billions of dollars in available, annual financing."
Over his 35-year career, Juarez has developed a deep background in public policy, financial management, investment banking and non-profit administration while working to promote state and local economic growth, according to the treasurer's office.
Juarez said he is excited about his new post because it gives him an opportunity "to access the untapped economic development powers of the Treasurer's Office, which are quite expansive."
Most recently, Juarez, 60, served eight and one-half years as chief legislative advocate for the University of California's 10-campus system. Capitol Weekly recently ranked Juarez 89th in its annual "Top 100" list of Sacramento movers and shakers, calling him "smart, prompt and detail-savvy."
In his most recent job at UC, Juarez and other top university management faced the difficult challenge of helping the university survive the severe recession of 2008-2009 and its aftermath. "Thankfully, we are in a much better situation today than seven years ago," he said. "We have not raised tuition in six years. That is a significant accomplishment."
Early in his career, he helped launch Los Angeles County's now-comprehensive light rail program. In intervening years, he focused on assisting local governments, educational institutions and nonprofit programs to secure financing to prepare tomorrow's workforce.
He has worked as finance director for the Getty Trust in Los Angeles, and as a banker for JPMorgan.
As a mayor's appointee to the Los Angeles Fire & Police Pension Board, Juarez "led an effort to ensure that pension investments encouraged construction of affordable housing and increased employment without sacrificing solid investment returns," according to the treasurer's office.
As deputy treasurer, Juarez will oversee the Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program, which recently was signed into law by the governor. Slated for launch in 2018, the plan is expected to provide individual retirement accounts for up to 6.8 million eligible workers in California, who do not have employer-provided pensions or 401(k) investment funds.
"This is a historic piece of social policy," Juarez said. "The treasurer's role is going to be crucial to ensure successful investment of these pension funds and a more comfortable retirement for the millennial generation when it stops working."