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Missouri State Treasurer Clint Zweifel spoke at the brunch at Truman Days this morning.

Missouri State Treasurer Clint Zweifel

Good morning.

[audience: “Good morning.”]

It’s amazing how we all look after November [laughter]. Feel better, at least. I tell ya, I just want to first say thank you and, you know, Steve Bough is one of the first people that I had the opportunity to say hello to in Kansas City during my journey here. And I think he represents a lot of what I thought, as a guy coming from the other side of the state, some of the great things about Kansas City. Open minded, willing to give a new candidate an opportunity to prove themselves and the warm embracement that I feel like you all gave me early on, year ago that I was here, that sort of struggling early on in that process. Every time I came here I left feeling a little bit better about that effort. Didn’t know if we were going to win for sure, but we felt a little bit better about that effort. So, thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me that chance to serve. Thank you. [applause]…

The place settings for brunch.

…And, and I also want to recognize, one of my first times here, maybe my second time here, I had the opportunity to pick up Dutch Newman, at her house. [laughter] I probably shouldn’t use the word “pickup”. [laughter] We’re friends, right? And, and we, we were going to a meeting and she said, “Can we, can we stop at this dry cleaners real quick on the way?” And I said, “Sure.” [laughter] So we stopped at this dry cleaners and we walked in and she gets her dry cleaning. But, of course, she doesn’t stop for a second, she says to the attendant, she says, “This guy is gonna be our next state treasurer.” [laughter] And he looks at her kind of crazy. And she says, “Yeah, you know, state treasurer. It’s an elected position. You’re voting in the election.” [laughter] And he goes, “Oh, I, I really don’t vote.” And she looks at him. And she’s kind of just looking, she goes, “Well yeah, but you’re gonna vote this election, right?” [laughter] “This is a big election.” He goes, “I’m philosophically opposed to voting.” And I, I, I’ve never seen those eyes look quite that way. [laughter] She said, “Come on, we gotta get out of here.” [laughter]

And, and, but again, in warm embracing, and willing to give me a chance, and thank you, Dutch. And, and, congratulations to Lolly [Garcia] for your award today and to be here to be a part of it and share in the joy. And, and one of the most nerve wracking things about coming to Kansas City is, is the fear that you actually would ever have to speak after Congressman Cleaver. [voices: “Yeah!”] [laughter] So, I feel like it’s a victory already. [laughter] [applause]

I tell you, you know, when you think about the ability to communicate as a leader is one of the most, I think, one of the most important qualities of leadership. And to be able to articulate a vision of the basic values of what the Democratic Party is about is criticle, right? And there is no one, in my short time in this business, that I’ve been able to see do that like Congressman Cleaver. Thank you for helping us. [applause]

As, as state treasurer I have an opportunity to talk a lot about financial education across the state, so which is one of our new, sort of, responsibilities that we work on. And it’s an important one. And last week, we have this, we have this great program called the stock market game. And this is a, this is a program where about four hundred kids from, fourth grade, I think, all the way up ’til, up ’til high school participate in this program. They come from everywhere. And we had a meeting last week in St. Louis where they did an awards ceremony for these kids. And these kids come from Knox County, three and a half hour drive, with their counselors and their teachers and their parents. They come from right next door in St. Louis, they come from Kansas City. And it’s, it’s really great because, you know, you’re coming home on a Thursday night thinking about, you know, what you really want to do, you know, get home, and you see all these kids. It’s, it’s a pretty refreshing, pretty refreshing experience. And one of these groups, they give the kids essentially the equivalent of a hundred thousand dollars to invest over a, basically over a four month period. And of course it’s been a horrible market, right? And one of the groups from Melville High School turned a hunred thousand dollars into a hundred and thirty thousand dollars during that period. And the leader [of the]…three person group came up and we got our picture taken. And I said, “You know, I, tell you, my staff is a little nervous, I think because we didn’t do so well in the Treasurer’s office this year. I’d like to give you a job at some point.” And he said, and he looked at me in the eye, and he shook my hand and he said, “No, I’m gonna be president.” [laughter]

And, you know, one of the things that they teach these kids about investing, obviously, is the idea that, you know, small investments over a long period of time actually pay off. And they try to teach them that as much as possible. The idea of persistence, the idea of being, of, of preparing yourself, and of doing research. And they really, it’s a great financial lesson that, you know, when you think about it, that lesson is really about life. You know the idea that making small investments in your self, making small investments in others, making small investments in our state actually make a difference. And that is an important lesson. And you think about, you think about growing up, and we talked about that conversation that night, I thought about growing up in my family. We didn’t have a lot of money. My dad was carpenter and my mom was a hair dresser. We didn’t have financial sophistication, right? But I think I learned more about investing from my parents and my family then I did [from] anyone. The idea that, you know, if you’re a member of a community you should stand up and get involved. And run for a local office. Or get involved and help the local candidate like my folks did. Or run a cub scout troop, or get involved in your church. The idea that you’re making a small investment – and I think that’s something that my parents didn’t have the money to figure out whether mutual funds or direct stock investment were their best choice. But they surely had the resources and the ability to really teach a child about investing really early on.

And I think about those examples when I walked on to a college campus for the first time. First person in my family to attend a college, first person to graduate. And you walk on as a young person and you see opportunity. Opportunity that you never thought existed. I just remember looking at the catalog of courses at that point and thinking, “My God, I can’t believe that I can choose between all these courses to study.” And I remember thinking about the teachers at that university who had absolutely no idea who I was. I surely wasn’t very confident, surely wasn’t communicating a bunch, and they came up to me and said, “You know, Clint, we want to help you.” And you begin thinking about that approach that those kids were learning in investments and making good financial decisions is really an approach to, to life in general. And an approach to how we should see government. And, you know, when you have people behind you, whether it’s government, whether it’s friends or family dort of standing by you, making those small investments, you’re surely a lot more likely to go a lot farther along the way.

You know when we, you kno
w when Steve [Bough] was talking about my first run in 2002, it was a pretty tough year for Democrats, right? We had lost the House eventually that year for the first time in forty-eight years. And I was excited though. I mean this is February, I’m filing for office, and I started, you know, talking to other state reps and they said, “You know, you’re, you’re running against the wrong guy. This guy is gonna win again. You know, he keeps winning.” He was in office for ten years. And I started knocking on seventy-five doors a day that year, starting June 1st. And we got to the end of August, we were about eight weeks out before the election. And I felt really good, right? These were all soccer coaches and baseball coaches and people that you’ve known for decades. And I started getting the same response in a week’s period from almost everybody I was knocking on the doors of, and that was, you know, “Clint, somebody just called about your election, they want to know how we’re gonna vote.” Somebody’s doing a poll. So I got home, I called the Democratic Party and I said, you know, I said, “Are you doing a poll? Because, you know, we’re getting the same response.” And they said, “Clint, we just completed the results.” And I said, “Well, tell me.” I said, “I’ve known all these people. We’ve knocked on, at this point, ten thousand doors, we’re gonna win this thing. And so, how am I doing?” There was this horrible pause. [laughter] and they said, “Clint, out of, out of that district and out of all the people we polled only eighteen per cent of the people still know who you are.” [laughter] “And forty-eight per cent are voting against you…eighteen percent are committed to voting for you.” And I thought, “No!” [laughter] “I lived here for twenty-eight years. I’m gonna do okay.” And they said, “Well, you know, you’re probably not gonna do it this time, but, you know, run a nice campaign, you’re gonna, you’re gonna come back in, in six years when it’s an open seat and do it.” And, you know, I thought a lot about the small investments that people had made in my campaign up to that point. Because I think as a candidate, and everybody in this room knows that feeling that’s been one, I think the one thing that you want to do is make everybody proud of the effort that you put into the campaign. You know, whether they’ve given five dollars or twenty-five hundred dollars, it really doesn’t matter. These are people that believe in you. And you want to live up to what, what they expect of you.

We went back out that next day and I knocked on seventy five more doors. We did that every day. And by the time we got to election night I had knocked on fourteen thousand doors, didn’t know if we were gonna win, but we felt really good. The early results came in at seven fifteen. And we were down a hundred and sixty votes. So we lost about eight per cent of my party at that point. [laughter] But, but by eleven o’clock we won that election by sixty seven votes out of thirteen thousand cast. [applause] And I say that because it’s a lesson that those small investments pay off. I mean, everyone of us as an individual has control over sixty seven votes. A lot more than that for some of us in the room. And, you know, you think about the power that we have as individuals to affect change in this process, and to be able to affect change in Jefferson City. And, you know, that, that’s what we’re trying to do in the office of State Treasurer right now.

You know, we came into the office and during the transition period with some priorities. And one was openess and transparency. One was making sure that we put your dollars to work for you. In the best way possible – that we reinvest in the state. You know we run an office with excellence.

And one thing that we identified early on is that we have one of only two states in the nation, one of only two states in the nation that when we make a deposit in a Missouri bank we actually don’t get an interest, competitive interest rate of return. We’re they only state that does this. So when I buy a six month CD we’re getting a return, a whopping return of about a fifth of a per cent and we should be getting about a percent and a half to two per cent. Now that, that costs taxpayers about ten to fifteen million dollars a year. But on top of that think about, think about the decision we have ahead of us. Do we want to reinvest inside the state and hurt taxpayers potentially? Or do we put our money somewhere else. And for the first time we’re one vote away in the House folks, for the first time in fifty years we’ll get a competitive rate of return on the interest that we place in Missouri banks and we will expand our small business lending program by three times. [applause]

You think between both of those changes, hopefully the House continues to plug along like they have been, thank you Paul, [laughter] and, and with that we’ll have a one billion dollar reinvestment in state at a time when our economy needs it more than ever. We also have been working really hard on college savings. And one of the things that we administrate is the Missouri MOST program, which is the college savings program. And it’s a tax deductible way to save for college, it’s a great way to save for college. The program works well, everybody will tell you how great it is, and it is good. But one thing that we found that there’s a lot of middle class families and working class families that frankly just don’t have the extra dollars to save for this program. And we’re undergoing, for the first time ever, a beginnings of a pilot program that would help us provide matching dollars for those families under a certain income level who are saving for college. The idea that if they’re willing a dollar in to their kid’s college education, then we’re willing to give them a dollar back or two dollars back. So we’re working on that. We hope to have some news at some point, the end of this year or next year for the beginning of that pilot program. really excited about that.

You know, I just can’t tell you how happy I am to be here today. I love the job of State Treaurer. And the confidence that you have given me and, and is remarkable. So, thank you. And I just want to say – think about what you’ve accomplished. You know, when Washington looks to Missouri now, they look to Senator McCaskill. [applause] You know, and we have, we have a governor now that’s talking about ways that we can actually move the state forward. So, you know, the conversations in Jeff City, folks, aren’t easy. And, and they’re not pleasant all the time. And this is the time in the session when people get frustrated, but folks, we’ve already made progress, right? we’re having the right conversations now, we weren’t four years ago. and that’s because of your effort. And we took five out of six statewide offices. five out of the six statewide [applause] offices right here in Missouri. And next year we have lots more excitement ahead of us – Robin Carnahan as a United States senator. [applause, cheers] And we have an auditor who’s quietly done an unbelievable job in that office. You know, if we’re going to accomplish our goals expanding health care access, and providing funding for education, we have to have a government that’s accountable and builds trust. Susan Montee has done that every single day in that office. [applause]

Folks, thank you again. I can’t tell you what an honor it is to serve you and really happy to be here in Kansas City. [applause]

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver.