The Pennsylvania treasurer, entrusted with guarding the state’s more than $120 billion in assets, plays a key role in solving Pennsylvania’s fiscal problems.
Those problems include fixing the long-term shortfall in the state’s pension funds even as school districts and the state prepare to make higher payments into them. That situation led Moody’s Investors Services to issue a negative outlook for the state in the spring.
Given Gov. Corbett’s adamant refusal to raise taxes, coupled with the nation’s slow economic recovery, the next state treasurer will have tough financial choices to make to ensure the safety of state investments.
In his first term as treasurer, ROB McCORD has demonstrated an exemplary ability to achieve excellent returns on the state’s investments. His independence and grasp of the mechanics of his office make it easy to recommend his reelection to voters.
Challenging McCord, a Democrat, is Republican Diana Irey Vaughan, 50, of Nottingham Township. Having served 17 years as a Washington County commissioner, Vaughan has been the boss of almost 1,000 employees. She also presided over the county’s pension fund, helping it to achieve a healthy status.
With a solid understanding of the state’s fiscal dilemma, and how the treasurer’s office can be used to rein in debt, Vaughan brings a talented new face to statewide politics. But she is no match for the incumbent.
McCord’s command of the issues, experience, and creative approach to managing the office of treasurer make him the better choice for Pennsylvania voters.
While the state treasurer does not have line-item veto power over capital bond issues, he must sign off on the deals. Understanding that, McCord stood up to then-Gov. Ed Rendell, a fellow Democrat, when Rendell wanted to issue $1 billion in bonds to finance bridges, prisons, college dorms, symphony halls, and hospitals.
By refusing to sign off on the bond deal, and working closely with Auditor General Jack Wagner, McCord was able to reduce the bond issue to $650 million, which helped Corbett, after he succeeded Rendell, to cope with a $4 billion deficit.
As a nonvoting member of the state’s gaming board, McCord won a suit to be included in the executive sessions where that body discusses its most important decisions. His presence helps ensure those decisions are best for citizens, not just casinos. His office issued an analysis of the best sites for new casinos in the state to maximize profits.
McCord, 53, of Lower Merion, was elected treasurer after a successful career as a venture capitalist and cofounder of the Eastern Technology Fund, which fostered new businesses. As state treasurer, he has begun modernizing the department’s computer systems and beefed up its unclaimed-property department, even as he cut staff due to funding cuts.
McCord’s intimate knowledge of investment strategies is helping the state keep its pension funds solvent. He also has made the state’s college savings program one of the best run in the nation.