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Governor Scott and Treasurer Pearce Create Financial Literacy Working Group to Increase the Financial Well-being of Vermonters

November 16, 2017

MONTPELIER, VT —Governor Phil Scott and State Treasurer Beth Pearce today announced a new partnership and formation of a Financial Literacy Working Group to improve State agencies’ and departments’ delivery of personal finance resources to Vermonters. The Working Group, which will be led by the Treasurer’s Office and Department of Financial Regulation, is one of a series of actions to increase the financial well-being of Vermonters.

“This is an important initiative for Vermonters, as the knowledge to make good financial decisions can make the difference in assuring our citizens are financially secure, are protected from financial fraud and can positively contribute to our economy,” said Governor Scott. “Ensuring Vermonters have a greater understanding of their finances ultimately impacts the economic strength of Vermont families, our communities, and the state overall.”

The Working Group process was convened after the Financial Literacy Commission recommended in its 2017 report the creation of an “interagency task force to review and evaluate current state policies and programs and coordinate new outreach to promote these efforts.” The Treasurer’s Office and Department of Financial Regulation have executed a Memorandum of Understanding to review State policies and propose new strategies so more Vermonters achieve financial security. Treasurer Pearce and Michael S. Pieciak, Commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation, will chair the initiative.

“Partnering with Vermonters to develop their financial skills is a cost-effective strategy to improve the prosperity of our state,” said Treasurer Beth Pearce, who this year implemented a disability savings program for qualifying individuals (Vermont-ABLE) and advocated for a new law to create a retirement savings initiative available to Vermont small businesses (The Green Mountain Secure Retirement Plan). “Financial education is a building block for the future that gives individuals the knowledge and skills so they can achieve a lifetime of opportunity and financial well-being. I want to thank the Governor, Commissioner Pieciak, and the members of the Financial Literacy Commission for their work to enhance State-led initiatives so more Vermonters reach their money goals.”

“Improving our state’s financial literacy is central to our Department’s efforts to prevent Vermonters from falling victim to financial frauds and scams,” said Commissioner Pieciak. “Additionally, helping Vermonters obtain a strong understanding of budgeting, investing, insurance, and banking is critical as they plan for the future or look to start a family or business. The Department looks forward to working with Treasurer Pearce to implement the recommendations of the Financial Literacy Commission.”

Members of the 12-member Financial Literacy Commission, including Co-Chair John Pelletier (director of the Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College), representatives of the State, school systems, community organizations and financial institutions, presented data about the need for financial education, and its connection to economic growth and lasting prosperity for Vermont.

“The Financial Literacy Commission is pleased that the Governor, Treasurer and General Assembly took action in 2017 to remove barriers to saving, addressing benefit cliffs in the Reach Up program that prevented Vermonters from building assets,” said Commission member Thomas Leavitt, President and CEO of Northfield Savings Bank. “Additional steps were taken to create a new law to authorize the Treasurer to help the 45% of Vermont employees who currently do not have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan at work by creating the Green Mountain Secure Retirement Plan. We need to continue this progress, focused on additional Financial Literacy Commission recommendations, to ensure Vermonters achieve financial well-being.”

The Financial Literacy Working Group has begun collecting information from executive branch agencies and departments to develop an inventory of existing State outreach efforts and resources. After the inventorying process is complete, the Working Group will conduct a comprehensive review to determine whether there are unutilized or underutilize resources that can be redeployed to maximize their effectiveness.