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Vaccine, New Hampshire, Chris Sununu LN Opinion+: Monica Mezzapelle

This is a space for our opinions. Where we talk about current events and questions, the latino community is curious about. Today we are joined by state treasurer of new hampshire, monica mizipelli. She was appointed in march 2020 following the former state treasurer william dyer’s resignation. She was then elected by new hampshire legislator in december to serve a full term. Monica is a member of the american institute of certified public accountants and the new hampshire government finance offers an association welcome monica and thank you for joining us this week. Thank you. Thank you for having me it’s a pleasure. I was hoping we could start off with the introduction, with an introduction to the new hampshire state treasury department, including its main roles and priorities. Sure um, so the new hampshire state treasury is a is a non partisan constitutional office and we are responsible for a variety of financial and accounting activities and functions. So we are responsible for the custody and the investment of public funds, as well as our program. Our debt management program as a state treasurer, i am authorized to issue new hampshire bonds on behalf of the state and we sell those uh to investors. We also um, so we coordinate all of the uh treasury, all of the uh cash deposits and disbursements. Everything flows through this through the treasury and um. We also uh we’re, also responsible for the abandoned property program. We have a division that um manages that and companies and financial institutions and many entities report abandoned property to us.

What is deemed abandoned and our division is responsible for returning those funds to the rightful owners and um. So we we also uh collaborate with many other entities um to administer other programs uh, for example, um. I um i work with the uh, the director of the governor’s commission on disabilities for the administration of the stable new hampshire program, and that is a savings program designed specifically for individuals with disabilities. That is a great program it was created by um is a product of the um irs tax code and um. So because of that it has some um tax benefits uh, but it also um an individual that owns that account could actually um those resources. Don’T count towards those um, some of the federal benefits that these individuals receive and we also collaborate with other entities such as the um college tuition. Savings plan advisor commission – and this is for the administration of the new hampshire 59 program or what we call as a unique college investment plan um. This is also a program that has tax benefits and earnings growth tax free. If, if the, if the funds in those accounts are used for uh qualified education expenses – and we also work with this commission for the administration of three scholarship programs – and this is scholarship programs for design for new hampshire students and and they have to demonstrate financial need, That’S great, i wouldn’t have thought um that your department collaborates so much, but it makes sense to provide this diversity of like resources and services that are important to the community um, so governor chris sununu.

He appointed you as new hampshire treasurer last year in march, just as the kova 19 pandemic began to surge i’m wondering what was it like entering that role during such unique conditions and a unique time? Yes, absolutely uh. It was a very busy um, 2020 and exactly at the time that i was appointed that’s when um we got hit with the pandemic, so um again that we we have many challenges, just like many other um places did, and it was a global health crisis um. So first we had to uh. You know we had to worry about making sure that our employees um were safe. So we had to move pretty quickly to provide the opportunity to our employees um to have a remote capable capability to be able to work from home. Those that i chose to do that and then, after that, we continue with our rotating schedule. So we still use that schedule to this day and also to make sure that we were providing services to all of the citizens, um and and individuals that rely on us. So, in addition to that, you know we have to worry about the financial crisis and um more than any other time. It was very important to start monitoring or cash position, uh more often to make sure the state could pay continue to face its obligations and um. We also had to uh report, do a lot of reporting and disclosure to uh entities and individuals that purchase our bonds and because they want to make sure they get paid from us.

And, and so there was a. It was a time when a lot of entities wanted to know the health um, the fiscal health, health of the state. So we were um communicating all of that to to entities that were uh interested in knowing um the current situation, as it was evolving right and we also received a lot of funds from the federal government. We received 1.25 billion dollars, so we had to um coordinate with the agencies that were responsible to disperse those funds. We would we need to coordinate really closely um to make sure that those funds were available when we received them, and also when these programs that were being developed by what we call the gopher office, the governor’s um office for recovery, uh relief and recovery. I believe it is, and, and so as they were, moving and pretty quickly designing these programs, we were working and coordinating with them um to make sure that we’re able to disperse all of the funds to, for example, the mainstream relief program and all those checks. That was that were dispersed to the different companies that received some of that relief. Thank you for that. Wow yeah. A lot happened in 2020 and you, your department, was not an exception, a lot of work there and much. I mean i already assumed, but um already learning that there’s a lot of different services that you guys provide um there’s a range. So, thank you for your team um.

What are the department’s immediate goals for 2021 for moving forward beyond the pandemic sort of recovering from this? Hopefully it’s quickly right, so we anticipate to to to continue to be very busy um. We are about to receive more money from the federal government um. We expect about that. We know right now. I know they’re billion dollars that needs to be distributed for uh for the recent um. The recent bill that was signed on um by the president – and this is the american rescue plan, so we are going to receive more funding and as those as we learn more about this um this program and and we receive more guidance from the u.s treasury. How these funds need to be spent um? We anticipate being really busy uh working with this funds and we have until 2024 to spend this funds uh. But there is a lot that we still need to learn in in and will work with all of the various um officials to make sure that all those this funds are dispersed. Um. You know in the the way that we’re designed right at the top of your head um, can you think of sort of where, typically, these funds would go to like the biggest places um for sure you would have to or you would prioritize um some of the Funds to go there too yeah, so i believe some of these funds are need to be spent on coronavirus relief activities uh, including some capital projects and infrastructures that relate to, for example, um water soar, and so there that’s some of those again.

Some of those details still need to be. We still need to learn a lot of that, so we’re, not clear uh. You know what agency is going to coordinate all of this funding again we’re in the early stages, just learning when we’re going to receive this funds. In and again more guidance that we need to probably receive from the u.s treasury, in order for the governor and legislators, i’m sure they’re going to be involved and trying to figure out how this funds are going to be spent i’ve got you well said. Thank you. So now that you’re reelected for to fill full term this past december, what are some long term goals that you have for the state’s treasury? Well again, i just uh, you know, hope to continue being in this role. Um uh, i was um. It was a privilege to be elected by the legislature um, and i will you know, make sure that i will continue serving um. You know the citizens and also um members of the legislature when, when they need me and the same as um the governor um, we we my position is is is a central position and i get to collaborate with um, again legislators and the governor’s office. So it’s a it’s uh, so my goal is to continue serving um. You know the best way possible. That’S beautiful. I was wondering in your opinion, um. If you can, this is sort of a vague question, but what kind of what types of lasting impacts might the department experi or experience or expect from the kova 19 crisis? What are some things? You’Ll have to sort of deal with um that had that started last year, yeah it’s, very interesting um, you know we’re still we’re still sort of living in the in the area of copenhagen pandemic.

We hope to see our co workers back and have some um type of what we will consider going back to a normal time, um so again, hopefully, uh we’re, able to at least um return to those times and again um. I think the key is going to be uh to all get vaccinated and and if, if folks have the opportunity to receive the vaccine, i think um that would be a key to um to go back to what we call normal uh. If that’s, if that’s possible, yeah that’s a good point um, what are some related resources, whether it’s inside the treasury department and you’ve, already mentioned plenty of opportunities, thank you or outside the department that you would recommend for residents to check out so for the programs that We that we administer, i would recommend to just check the treasury website: new hampshire, new hampshire.gov treasury and right there. There are several links to the programs that i mentioned: new hampshire state, new hampshire program, um, the um, the abandoned property program and so um. For the event, the proper program is new hampshire.find, your unclaimed property.com, so and, and the other uh website that i would recommend is um the state’s website, um nh.gov, a lot of uh press releases from the governor are posted there and any announcements. If folks want to know about the latest funds that we we’re going to be receiving, those are going to be posted on that website.

Okay, perfect and we have some time so i’ve. Actually i don’t know if this is a big thing or not, but um. The department was recently divided into two main sections: treasury operations and abandoned property. As of february i’m, just curious what led to this decision um sort of what does that mean the division of it? No, we we’ve had this this structure for um for a long time i’m, not even clear for how long um, so no we we are we’re. Essentially, two divisions um, but at the same time, as i mentioned to you, we collaborate with many entities and i serve on many boards and commissions and and so that’s part of the collaboration um, but that but the treasury office is small and and so we are, You know comprised of two divisions: gotcha. Okay, thank you for clarifying that yeah. Then i guess i got the wrong one from info, but good to know um. So then, before we go, if there are any resources, news or updates, i know you guys working on a lot anything else. You’D like to share with our audience, please feel free to go yeah. Thank you again. I think um it’s staying updated with um with the governor’s information that’s, how we we learn a lot of the developments um, for example the um. You know the the events that are happening right now with vaccines and and all of that, so i think staying current with um checking the the website, the stick website and again the treasury for for the programs that we manage.

I think that would be um that’s. What i would recommend um your viewers, thank you yeah. We will absolutely have all those resources listed down um and the website below the stock. So thank you so much for your expertise and time with us, monica mizapelli and for being our guest on nhln opinion, plus. My pleasure, thank you, of course. I hope you take care. Everyone please tune in next week for another episode.

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