Column: A New Day Dawning
Earlier this month, Mississippi administered its 1 millionth COVID-19 vaccine. It’s a major milestone that has been accompanied by an incremental return to normal. Restaurants are busier. Kids are back in school. Gatherings are getting larger. And many families are able to breathe a sigh of relief just before the Easter holiday. A new day is dawning.
I took the oath of office to serve as State Treasurer about 60 days prior to the first shutdowns. No one expected quarantine to last longer than a few weeks, but we equipped our team so the work of the State Treasury could resume at home – and work is exactly what our team did.
Even amid the pandemic, our team hit goal after goal, so I wanted to highlight some of our accomplishments today.
One of the first things we did was launch the “Tell Me Something Good” scholarship program, which delivered a $529 scholarship to four students who were giving back to their communities during the pandemic. I was blown away by the winners’ contributions.
Jared Smith from Magee distributed household baskets to the elderly and new moms. Tupelo’s Aiden Wilson served meals to the needy. Molly Warrington of Greenville prepared and packed 1,500 bags of food – and inspired her friends to do the same. Finally, Laurel’s Fletcher Horne raised money to purchase meals from local restaurants to feed more than 1,000 frontline workers.
Meanwhile, our Unclaimed Property Division doubled down on returning cash to struggling families, healthcare heroes, and local community organizations. By year’s end, our team infused Mississippi’s economy with $20 million of unclaimed money – an economic stimulus that didn’t cost taxpayers a penny.
What’s more, we made it a priority to find funds that belonged to hospitals working overtime to care for our families. As a result, we returned $1.5 million to local healthcare facilities.
Of course, one of the Treasury’s most fundamental responsibilities is to manage cash flow. The state’s credit rating plays a big role in our ability to do that. Despite the year’s challenges, we proved to creditors that Mississippi could manage its money, and we successfully protected our strong double-A rating – an accomplishment that has saved taxpayers more than $36 million.
I know this has been a difficult year for many, and my prayers continue to go out to all who have lost a loved one during this time, but I am grateful that this Easter we have turned a corner to see a new day dawning.
“Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning.” – Ecclesiastes 11:7