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Treasurer Promotes Savings Accounts For Missourians With Disabilities

Missouri Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick speaks on April 24, 2019, at Children's Hospital in St. Louis.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
Missouri Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick speaks on April 24, 2019, at Children's Hospital in St. Louis.

Missouri Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick marked his 100th day in office by visiting St. Louis Children’s Hospital Wednesday to promote a savings program for people with disabilities.

Gov. Mike Parson appointed Fitzpatrick to become treasurer in January. He succeeded Eric Schmitt, who resigned to become attorney general.

Fitzpatrick is seeking to get more people to sign up for ABLE accounts. Those allow Missouri residents with disabilities to save tax-free money without losing benefits such as Social Security Disability Insurance.

One of the things that Fitzpatrick is trying to do is get employers to directly deposit money from their paycheck into ABLE accounts. He recently secured such an arrangement with CoxHealth.

“The way we’re going to try to target it is by talking with HR people at businesses,” Fitzpatrick said. “We want to get to as many people as we can as quickly as we can with the opportunity to participate in the program. And payroll deductions are a way that they can support the program for their employees who have a disability or a family member with a disability that want to save for their future.”

Fitzpatrick said some of his time in office focused on retooling the state’s linked deposit program, which is known as Missouri First. That places some of the state’s money in local banks that could be offered to businesses for low-interest loans. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reportedthat Fitzpatrick’s office is eliminating the option to use the program to refinance debt.

“It was like a full-power climb toward the cap,” Fitzpatrick said. “And we had to change the rules on that. We had to look at and reform that program. And that really took up a lot of our time in the first month and a half.”

And even though he stepped aside as House budget chairman to become treasurer, Fitzpatrick is still monitoring the state’s revenue situation. Before the April 15 tax deadline, Fitzpatrick noted the state was still way below where revenues were last year.

But Fitzpatrick added that last-minute filers have stabilized things considerably.

“My guess is that revenue will continue to trend in the right direction that will be somewhere around the consensus revenue estimate [of 1.7 percent growth],” Fitzpatrick said. “Obviously something could happen that could impact that or change that pretty quickly. But a few days ago, we were underwater a few hundred million dollars. And now we’re above water. It turned around pretty quickly with tax filings.”

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

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Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.