Boozer speaks in Troy, deflects queries on political plans

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Alabama State Treasurer Young Boozer III stopped short of saying what many members of the Troy Rotary Club were hoping to hear.

When quizzed, Boozer, the program guest at the club’s Tuesday meeting, said he would wait until the state’s political climate settled before making a decision as to what state office, if any, he will seek when his term of office ends in two years.

Boozer quickly acknowledged to his audience that he, too, is a Rotarian and has been for 30 years.

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“I know how valuable the work you do is,” he told the Rotarians. “I believe, 100 percent, in service above self.”

As for his service to the state as its treasurer, Boozer said, “I love my job. I’m a problem solver and a fixer and I appreciate the opportunity to serve.”

When Boozer threw his hat in the political ring in 2010, it was his first venture into politics and he credits Jay Leno, the former host of NBC’s The Tonight Show, with his successful campaign. And he explained why.

“I had been out campaigning on a Monday night,” Boozer said. “I was tired so I went to bed around 10 p.m.”

The next morning, Boozer was shocked to find more than 250 electronic messages alerting him that he had been “on” The Tonight Show. Someone had sent Leno one of Boozer’s campaign signs and Leno quipped that “this man is qualified but he has the worst name in politics.”

Boozer said being “on” Leno created a buzz and gave him wide name recognition – recognition that he would never have had otherwise.

Boozer shared, with the Rotarians, his personal philosophy that has served him well in life and in his work: “Do what is right; do it the right way and do it right away.”

Boozer said he has applied that philosophy to his political career as well, including the restructuring of the Alabama Trust Fund and the rewriting of a bill to bring the fund into the 21st century. Alabama’s State Treasurer also applied his philosophy when Alabama lawmakers faced the decision on how the state should use a $1 billion settlement with BP for economic damages from the 2010 oil spill.

“Spending the BP windfall without repaying the ATF would be like squandering an inheritance that could be used to pay off a home mortgage,” he said. “That would be doing the right thing.”

Boozer said the state’s PACT Program (Prepaid Affordable College Tuition) program was a disaster. The program’s assets were growing at a rate of 4.5 percent while college tuition was growing at 9.5 percent.

Following a class action lawsuit that took effect in 2013, students enrolled in the state’s PACT program are getting a 3 percent increase in payments toward tuition and fees.

Boozer also spoke on the value of the state’s College Counts Scholarships that provide funding assistants to students who have a financial need and the Enable Savings Plan for certain Alabamians who have disability-related expenses.

“The state’s Unclaimed Property has up to millions of dollars in unclaimed funds sitting in Treasury accounts across the state.  And, it’s just sitting there waiting to be claimed. These funds come from forgotten bank accounts, insurance claims, so many different places and ways that people lose track of their money,” Boozer said.