State Treasurer: Kimberly Yee pledges to push for lower taxes, financial education

Kimberly Yee is the Republican candidate running for Arizona State Treasurer. Yee currently serves as the Arizona Senate Majority Leader. (Photo courtesy of Kimberly Yee)

Name: Kimberly Yee
Political party: Republican
Position sought: State treasurer
City of residence: Phoenix
Occupation: Arizona Senate Majority Leader and small business owner

What is the greatest issue Arizona residents face? If elected, how would you address this issue?

To promote a strong Arizona economy, Yee would promote lower taxes and bringing more jobs to the state. As businesses expand and consumers spend, more dollars will be generated for education, healthcare and public safety resources, she said.

What other issues are important to you and your campaign?

Yee said she has been promoting financial literacy over her decade in Arizona politics, especially to public schools and universities. The process can even start as early as kindergarten, she said.

“We can learn how to save money by having a piggy bank and putting our savings in and watching that piggy bank grow so we can afford to spend money on a toy. It’s a simple approach to begin at the earliest grade.”

Yee, 44, faults schools for not investing in this approach, which she said results in foreclosures, rent defaults and high credit card debt after students become adults.

She sponsored two related bills in the Legislature: One requires Arizona to incorporate financial literacy requirements from kindergarten to senior year of high school into academic standards; the other promotes free financial literacy programs for educators.

What in your past work, political or volunteer experience makes you a better candidate to hold this office?

Yee said her extensive governmental experience sets her apart from her opponent, Mark Manoil. She has served in the Arizona Legislature since 2010 and represents Legislative District 20.

Yee, who has a master’s degree in public administration from Arizona State University, briefly worked for the State Treasurer’s Office as a director of communications and government affairs. She was a Maricopa County supervisor and has worked in the investment, banking services and accounting areas.

Before getting involved in Arizona politics, Yee was a policy analyst for then-California Gov. Pete Wilson, and she worked for another California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

With 22 years spent shaping and analyzing public budget, she said, “I believe I am the only candidate in this race who has that background and experience for this position.”

At the Legislature, Yee is on four Senate committees and has sponsored or co-sponsored 39 bills. She is also a treasurer for a political nonprofit, the Arizona Order of Women Legislators. Because of that, Yee said, “five former Arizona state treasurers who served from the 1970s to today” have endorsed her.

Yee hopes to reach out to more local cities and towns to expand the Local Government Investment Pools, a state program that she said isn’t well-known. Local money is pooled and managed by the state treasurer, and funds “can be used for local infrastructure and local education programs,” Yee said. One hundred fifty local governments participate in the program, according to the Arizona Treasurer’s website, but Yee wants more enrollment.

“This is a service,” Yee said. “They pay for it at a very, very low cost, but it does maximize their investments because they’re pooling their money together and building a greater yield.”

As the co-owner of a dental practice in the West Valley with her husband, Yee said she has an important perspective on the local economy. This ties into the fiscal conservative values she promotes, she said.

What is a personal challenge you feel you need to overcome?

Visiting “every single corner in every pocket of the state” during the campaign was both challenging and important, she said.

“There are so many (people in) counties I’ve visited outside of Maricopa County who shared with me … their thanks because former state treasurers have never come to visit their little town,” Yee said.

Please share a quote or advice that you live by.

“I believe that voters deserve someone they can trust, someone who will hold up this office with honesty and integrity.”

Her family, particularly her three young children, are her inspiration, she said.

“I want them to have better future and education system and a better place to live,” Yee said.

What app on your phone could you not live without?

Text messaging is the one she mainly uses, along with a calendar app to help with daily scheduling.

Campaign website for Kimberly Yee.

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