- Andrew Napolitano
Treasurer Goldberg Joins House and Senate Committees on Ways and Means and Executive Office for Administration and Finance for Consensus Revenue Hearing
Today, State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg joined the Massachusetts' House and Senate Committees on Ways and Means and the Executive Office for Administration and Finance for a virtual consensus revenue hearing to discuss the Fiscal Year 2023 revenue projections and economic outlook for the Commonwealth. Treasurer Goldberg discussed the challenges faced by our state and communities amid the pandemic and how Treasury continues to provide revenue and critical services next fiscal year. Below are the Treasurer's remarks prepared for delivery:
As prepared for delivery:
Secretary Heffernan, Chairman Michlewitz, Chairman Rodrigues, and members of the Committee – I always appreciate the opportunity to have an open conversation with you about our revenue projections and the fiscal outlook for Massachusetts.
With the latest valuation at the end of October, the Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Trust (PRIT) Fund reached a record $101 billion, crossing the $100 billion mark for the first time and more than doubling in size over the past 10 years.
These results follow the record-setting fiscal year ended June 30, 2021 in which the PRIT Fund was up approximately 30% with a net investment gain of $22.1 billion, $6.7 billion [or 9%] above benchmark. For the September quarter, the results continued to be strong, returning 2.4%, net of fees, despite global markets posting modest losses.
The Fund also moved ahead with its Future Initiative, the strategic plan to accomplish the goals as set by the Investment Equity Legislation, which became law this past January. This Initiative will reduce barriers for diverse managers, as we work to ensure that at least 20% of the Fund’s investment managers and vendors are women, people of color, or persons with disabilities.
Additionally, the Fund stands at the forefront of ESG investment research, with a groundbreaking partnership with MIT Sloan School and other institutional investors from around the globe. This research will enable PRIM to be among the first investors in the world to utilize more reliable ESG ratings to design and implement more impactful investment programs while conducting an assessment of PRIM’s investment portfolio carbon footprint over time.
The PRIM Board continues to diligently monitor and discuss market risks and is confident that the long-term, all-weather portfolio will continue to perform well no matter the state of the market.
Certainly, Massachusetts’ financial results have been stronger than originally expected through the COVID-19 pandemic and recession. Our state’s finances have been bolstered by the strong stabilization fund heading into the recession, budgets based on conservative revenue forecasts, and the influx of significant federal aid.
I would like to thank the Legislature and the Administration for your continued commitment to sound fiscal practices, including replenishing the stabilization fund. The Rainy-Day Fund has a current balance of $4.6 billion and is anticipated to increase further to $5.8 billion. This balance is viewed as “strong” by the rating agencies and is the third largest in the nation, in absolute terms. Overall, the rating agencies acknowledge the Commonwealth’s robust economic base and its prudent management practices to help navigate challenging periods.
We continue to experience strong investor demand for our bonds and low interest rates. Our Debt Management team has successfully used all available mechanisms to generate savings for the state. We look forward to working alongside you to maximize the impact of the incoming Federal Infrastructure Funds.
Massachusetts State Lottery
Turning now to the Massachusetts State Lottery. As you may recall, sales of all Lottery products dropped sharply at the onset of the pandemic.
Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the Lottery exceeded projections for Fiscal Year 2021 and produced a record net profit of $1.112 billion. By responsibly adjusting our business operations and working closely with our retail partners, we were able to generate record-setting sales of instant tickets, while also realizing a jump in sales of Mega Millions and Powerball tickets due to significant jackpots.
The Lottery has projected $995 million in net profit for the present Fiscal Year 2022. Lottery products continue to provide a valuable source of revenue for many small businesses across the state, including convenience and corner stores, supermarkets, gas stations, package stores, restaurants, and bars. Enhancing local aid and supporting our network of retail partners remains critical, especially as customers now have access to new entertainment options.
Looking forward to Fiscal Year 2023, the Lottery is projecting $1 billion in net profit. Outcomes for Fiscal Year 2022 and projections for Fiscal Year 2023 both could be impacted by potential supply chain issues with various specialty paper products. The Lottery has taken a proactive approach to remain adequately stocked at the present time and is preparing for possible alternatives to standard supplies if needed.
Acknowledging the increased consumer preference for online and mobile engagement, the Lottery developed a mobile cashing feature on the Lottery app. This new feature allows customers to claim prizes of $601 to $5,000 and have their winnings securely deposited electronically into their bank account. It is not only convenient, but the environmental impact is significant.
Since launching this feature, over 4,500 prize claims have been processed, totaling over $5.5 million in prizes. Eliminating these vehicle trips to our claim centers has saved customers over 9,300 gallons of gas, resulting in a 183,307 pound reduction in carbon emissions and over $31,000 in gas cost savings. These numbers will continue to grow with greater customer use.
While we continue to evolve our operations to meet the latest technological standards and consumer trends, your continued operating and capital support of the Lottery is essential.
Moving on to Unclaimed Property, I am pleased to report the Division continues to provide superior service to the people of Massachusetts.
Unclaimed Property is on track to revert $98.75 million in Fiscal Year 2022. In Fiscal Year 2023, the Division anticipates a total reversion of $145 million, a net gain of $46.25 million over our Fiscal Year 2022 estimate. This significant increase is possible because of liquidation of stocks, required to be held for three years. The stocks are now available to be sold, with the cash coming back to the Commonwealth.
Moving on to the ABCC, as you know, the pandemic has taken a major economic toll on restaurants and bars across the state. To meet these challenges head on, the ABCC partnered directly with the Legislature and the Administration, alongside affected communities, industry leaders, and small businesses. Together, we have identified programs to assist in alleviating the pressure of the pandemic on licensees. I want to thank you for this ongoing partnership and support of licensees as they rebuild and recover.
As you know, in 2021, the Legislature waived many of the requirements of the annual retail license renewal. This action allowed hundreds of licensees to hibernate through the winter of 2020, keeping their license active at no additional cost, with the intent of reopening in the spring of 2021. Very few licensees opted not to renew, even if their business was not operating.
The annual license renewal process for 2022 is now underway, with all of the license renewal requirements in place. As a result, this annual renewal should provide a more accurate understanding of the impact of the pandemic on licensees.
In Fiscal Year 2021, the ABCC brought in $5.85 million. We project $5.8 million for Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023. However, this projection may change, based upon the annual renewal numbers across license classes.
My team at the ABCC will continue to monitor the impact of this pandemic on local businesses. We stand ready to work with you to find innovative solutions to assist and revive these economic engines.
Thank you again for inviting me to testify today. I know we will have many more conversations about these issues in the weeks and months ahead. I look forward to our continued collaboration.
Now I am happy to answer any questions.