Crunching the money numbers are not always that exciting except for an exuberant state official described as “one of the good guys” during a recent visit to Pauls Valley.
Formerly a state legislator for 12 years and now Oklahoma’s state treasurer is Randy McDaniel.
McDaniel told members of the Pauls Valley Rotary Club it was great to be back here, especially after all the “great” rivalries he experienced as a high school student in Purcell going up against PV, namely in track.
More recently McDaniel said a campaign stop here in 2018 while first running for treasurer came in a distant second to Pauls Valley’s more pressing need at the time – saving its local hospital.
“They were trying to save their hospital and not worried about who is running for state treasurer,” McDaniel said about his last visit in what turned out to be only months before the PV hospital did close down.
With a background in banking and as a financial advisor, McDaniel said his work today as treasurer is to oversee an agency that accounts for all the revenue coming into the state of Oklahoma.
“At our core is making sure we operate,” he said.
“Every state dollar is coming through our office. We’re responsible for every single penny.”
McDaniel says one area getting his office’s attention is unclaimed property.
Here in Pauls Valley it’s about $374,000 of property unclaimed by 742 people.
He calls it a “hurry up and wait process” to make claims, “but we’re very committed to getting that property back to you.”
Some of the larger claims come from things like mineral rights that people may be unaware exist.
There’s also what McDaniel calls the “big issue” of financial literacy in the state.
“You hope you can plant a seed that helps people. We do have a focus on improving financial literacy in Oklahoma.”
Another focus of his agency is helping people with 529 savings plans.
Although the treasurer says his office really isn’t in the business of forecasting the future of the state’s revenues, he does say things like gross production are on the positive side.
“After COVID hit in March (2020) the gross production receipts were down every month compared to the previous month (April),” McDaniel said.
“This last month was the first one where that went up. We do have some indications, like gross production, that the next couple of months look pretty decent.”
Another number up is the revenue from the legal medical marijuana industry.
Although the largest investment in the history of the state’s education was recently made, McDaniel says the Legislature still has the issue of funding health care.
“They know the writing is on the wall and they need to come up with solutions for health care,” he said.
“They’re still looking at how much the private sector plays a part and how to work this out.”