Two Republicans Want to Manage State Budget as Next State Treasurer

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April 6, 2018 - 6:45am

When voters in Nebraska go to the polls May 15, they will most likely be choosing the next state treasurer. Two Republicans – who differ in background, experience, and vision -- are competing for the position. 


Two Republicans are vying for the opportunity to manage Nebraska taxpayers’ money.

John Murante, a state senator from Gretna, and Taylor Royal, a 2017 Omaha mayoral candidate, want to be Nebraska’s next state treasurer.

Since the Democrats and other parties did not field a candidate, the successor to Don Stenberg—who has held the statewide office for 8 years-- will most likely be decided in the winner-take-all GOP primary on May 15.

Gretna State Senator John Murante speaks on the floor of the Unicameral in March. (Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News).

 

Both Murante and Royal talk about making the state more fiscally responsible, improving the transparency of state spending, increasing the state’s financial literacy, and modernizing Nebraska’s college saving plans.

But, the candidates differ on their background, experience, and vision for the future.

Murante says he knows how to balance the books because he has experience running a family business, Big Fred’s Pizza in Omaha.

First and foremost, we need a state treasurer who has managed budgets, who has managed cash, somebody who has a history of running a business and I’ve done that," Murante said.

Royal emphasizes his direct experience in accounting and investments, which he said would add value to his job performance.

Taylor Royal stands in the conference room of the wealth management firm Northwestern Mutual in west Omaha. (Photo by Pamela Thompson, NET News).

“So every single day, I sit down with clients to help them chart a good path to retirement and work on their investment and saving strategies," Royal said. "That’s ultimately what I want to do for Nebraska.”

Murante, who was first elected to the Legislature in 2012, and re-elected in 2016, said his lengthy legislative record reflects his strong conservative values and his leadership.

“What we need in a state treasurer is someone who has proven themselves as a reliable conservative leader. I certainly have done that. I’m the chairman of the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs committee here in the Unicameral," Murante said. "I have led on issues such as voter identification laws, providing property tax relief and limiting government spending.”

Royal, who has been endorsed by Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, says one strategy he would focus on for taxpayers would be more long-term investing.

“I believe we could parcel out some of those assets that taxpayers are missing out on," Royal said. "Maybe there’s a way to segment that portfolio a little more strategically on how we invest those dollars in the first place.”

 

State Senator John Murante watches the floor debate from the side of the Nebraska Legislature. (Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News). 

 

Royal said he’d also invest in the next generation of taxpayers. He says Nebraska's youth need to learn more about money management and financial responsibility.

“A part of my vision is to teach and educate our high schoolers in sound financial principles, like saving, budgeting and investing in the stock market, applying for loans, and making sure that the students that come after us are financially prepared for whatever hits them after high school, " Royal said.

Murante has received the endorsements of some Republican heavyweights, including Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, and outgoing state treasurer Don Stenberg. He says he knows earlier politicians have used the office as a springboard to higher offices, but Murante says he’s concentrating on this job.

"Right now, the same vacuum exists in the state treasurer’s office," Murante said. "We have had a great line of state treasurers, but Don Stenberg’s leaving us, and we need someone to step in, who’s managed budgets, who’s run a business, and who’s proven himself as a conservative Republican leader."

When he's not campaigning across the state, Taylor Royal works as an account associate financial representative and wealth manager in the Omaha office of Northwestern Mutual. (Photo by Pamela Thompson, NET News). 

 

Murante said he respects how hard Nebraskans work for their paychecks, and would be respectful of taxpayer dollars if elected.

“You need to look at it as if it is a business," Murante said. "You need somebody in the job as state treasurer who understands that taxpayer dollars don’t belong to politicians. Taxpayer dollars are dollars people worked for, they earned; they spent time away from their families to earn.”

Royal said he would be ready day one to manage Nebraska taxpayers' money because of his education and experience. He believes that sets him apart from his opponent.

“The highest responsibility as state treasurer is to manage taxpayers' dollars well. I know that Nebraskans work hard for their money, so when it comes to the state treasurer’s office, their money should be properly accounted for, effectively invested and completely protected," said Royal.

With no challengers from other parties pending in the general election, Nebraskans will most likely be electing either Murante or Royal as the state’s next treasurer when they vote in May.


State Senator John Murante. (Photo courtesy of Nebraska Unicameral).

John Murante                                      

Age: 36

Party: Republican

Occupation: State senator, Legislative District 49; former president, Big Fred’s

Home: Gretna

Public offices held: 2013-present, State senator; delegate to Republican National Convention, 2012; 1st district member at large, Nebraska Republican Party, 2008

Education: University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Political Science

Family: Married, one child

Campaign website: Facebook.com/Senatormurante

 

 


Taylor Royal. (Photo courtesy of Taylor Royal for State Treasurer campaign.)

Taylor Royal

Age: 28

Party: Republican

Occupation: Accountant, associate financial representative and wealth manager at Northwestern Mutual

Home: Omaha

Public offices held: None

Education: University of Nebraska-Lincoln, bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance; Southern Methodist University, master’s degree in accounting

Family: Married

Campaign website: TaylorjRoyal.com

 

 


Duties of the Nebraska State Treasurer

  • Functions as the banking arm of the State of Nebraska, receipting and disbursing all state funds. All payments made to state agencies, whether by check, cash, credit card or ACH debit or credit, flow through state bank accounts and are receipted in by the treasury staff.
  • Maintains and updates information on the State of Nebraska’s transparency website, StateSpending.Nebraska.gov.
  • Administers and serves as Trustee of the Enable Savings Plan, a tax-advantaged savings program for individuals with qualifying disabilities.  
  • Administers and serves as Trustee of the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST), Nebraska’s state-sponsored 529 college savings plan.
  • Receives and disburses child support payments in an agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Administers the Uniform Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act by receiving unclaimed property from businesses, financial institutions, and organizations; searching for owners; helping owners file claims; and verifying and processing claims for rightful owners.
  • Serves as a member of the Board of State Canvassers, the Nebraska Investment Council, the Quality Jobs Act Board, and the State Records Board.
  • In addition to official duties of the office, the State Treasurer in recent years has initiated and supported a financial education program for Nebraska students, called Nebraska Financial Scholars. The program offers an online financial education program for high school students and another for elementary and middle school students.

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