Changes proposed for Cash Management Board

Sunset committee proposals to be vetted by legislative committees
Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, R-Georgetown, listens to Sen. Ernie Lopez, R-Lewes, explain why the hiring of an independent financial advisor for the state's Cash Management Board is a good idea. Both men sit on the bipartisian Joint Sunset Committee. BY CHRIS FLOOD
June 4, 2014

Appointed members of the state's Cash Management Policy Board will be required to disclose their personal finances under recommendations made from the General Assembly's bi-partisian Joint Finance Committee May 8.

Other recommendations approved include the relocation of staffing from the board to the Department of Finance; increasing the number of times the board meets from two to four; the posting of meeting minutes in a timely manner; and hiring an independent financial adviser.

The committee also voted to keep the status quo on two items: the composition of the board and the ability of board members  to contribute to political campaigns.

Following the meeting, State Treasurer Chip Flowers was happy with the committee’s recommendations. He said the annual financial discloser was a win for all Delawareans and was worth the fights and struggles it took to get there.

“The public won today,” he said.

Sen. Brian Pettyjohn sits on the Joint Sunset Committee. He agreed with the proposal for financial disclosure.

“There’s not an undo burden to report annually,” he said.

Sen. Ernie Lopez, R-Lewes, who also sits on the committee, strongly supported a proposal that would require an independent auditor, something he said his constituents have asked for.

The brevity of the hearing and overall general support of the proposals by all sides is a far cry from a few months ago, when Flowers, a Democrat, and other high-ranking Democrats were butting heading over who was in charge of the management board.

There are nine members on the board, including the state treasurer, the secretary of finance, the secretary of state, the controller general, and five members of the public appointed by the governor.

Created in 1981, the purpose of the board is to watch over the state's investments and monitor a portfolio that has grown to $2 billion.

In February, Gov. Jack A. Markell supported legislation drafted by Speaker of the House Rep. Peter Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, that clarifies policy and investment practices of the board. It also redefines the treasurer's role on the board.

Schwartzkopf said in March commotion surrounding the board meetings triggered the review by the sunset committee and that Flowers wanted the board to be sunsetted by the committee so the state treasurer could run the state’s portfolio.

On Monday, May 12, Schwartzkopf said his dispute with Flowers centered on the process Flowers was using to discuss problems with the cash management board.

It should have gone to with the sunset committee from the beginning, he said.

He said he approved the proposals made by the committee and was happy to see board members can still make campaign contributions.

The next step will be developing legislation based on the recommendations and assigning it to House and Senate committees.