(Steve Martin) – In what appears to be Nevada State Treasurer Kate Marshall’s growing trend of political hypocrisy and attempts to dodge the real issues, Kate Marshall has again been engaged in behavior counter to her political rhetoric.
One of the most troubling examples of Marshall’s failure of leadership stems from her improper stewardship of the public’s money. Kate Marshall has put the Millennium Scholarship at risk and has been delaying properly informing the public and state officials throughout the process.
The recent Special Legislative Session to ensure that all state budgets were solvent through June 30, 2011, including the Millennium Scholarship, just ended March 1, 2010.
Yet, days later, on March 18, Marshall requested a $200,000 transfer from the Nevada College Savings Plan Trust Fund in order make the Millennium Scholarship fund solvent.
In a March 22, 2010 letter to the Legislature, Marshall explained that this was “to make the program whole through Fiscal Year 2011,” (June 30, 2011). Treasurer Marshall goes on to state or imply three different times in her letter that this action of moving $200,000 from the Nevada College Savings Plan will keep the Millennium Scholarship solvent for over a year.
Unfortunately, this is not likely to be the case.
Many lawmakers have expressed surprise that this immediate need for $200,000 in stop-gap funding was not mentioned during Marshall’s testimony before the Special Session. Had this shortage been openly and publicly highlighted by Marshall the Legislature may have acted differently.
Now this week, less than two short months after the special session and less than one month after her announcement assuring everyone the Millennium fund was solvent for at least a year, it appears the Millennium Scholarship is approximately $1.6 million short of funding and could be $3.4 million short of projections by June, 2011.
The reason for the shortfall comes from the fact that the Tobacco Settlement funds most of the Scholarship and the annual payment made to Nevada this month was 10% less than projected creating the $1.6 million shortfall. If the April 2011 payment is approximately the same as April 2010’s, a $3.4 million shortfall will occur before June 2011.
These facts raise alarming questions: Why have Marshall’s projections been so inaccurate? Why are these true potential deficits finding the light of day only AFTER the Special Session? Why has Marshall kept quiet about this shortfall that could be catastrophic to Nevada students? This $1.6 million shortage could cost 1,600 Nevada students their hard-earned scholarship money.
Simply, Marshall hides the bad news and only tells the good news: An increasing pattern of hypocrisy which underscores Marshall’s tendency to present the news that best fits her political goals. That is not behavior conducive to a strong financial manager.
This is not a question of whether anyone else would have been able to increase the tobacco money…but rather a question of why Marshall did not share accurate information during the Special Session, did not share accurate information in her March 18th meeting, nor in her March 22nd letter to Nevada’s elected officials, and has not disclosed the tobacco funding shortage despite the tobacco revenues being publicly available.
This situation of delaying information concerning the Millennium Scholarship is not new or unique. Ms. Marshall is developing a lengthy record of putting political expediency before sound leadership.
First, she recently said in a press conference that she’s in favor of more transparency and accountability, yet she was hardly transparent when discussing her mishandling of the Lehman Brothers contract that cost Nevada taxpayers $50 million.
Secondly, she led the charge to criminalize actions of her predecessor and yet this past week she was caught airing radio commercials – featuring herself – advertising the Nevada College Savings Plan…while a candidate for office. She is spending more on the advertising than the actual prizes! ($12,000 on radio commercials to give away $529 to six children). Treasurer Marshall may see this office as a stepping-stone for her personal ambition, but the simple truth is that she needs to be spending more time on the State’s true business where hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake.
A third example of Marshall’s self-promotion-spin came after getting caught on the airwaves. In today’s Nevada News Bureau article her government-funded spokesperson wants us to believe the ads are targeted to children. …(“The ads are aimed at children who can’t vote, George said.”)
To see the type of station Kate Marshall thinks Nevada kindergartners listen to, click here:
How many ten year olds listen to KOMP Rock or Sunday morning talk radio sports programs on KBAD? These ads are targeted to parents (voters) and for Marshall to claim otherwise undermines even basic credibility.
A fourth example compounding her hypocrisy of using taxpayer resources to promote herself after Nevada’s candidate filing deadline is that she recently received an ethics complaint after being caught using her official office secretarial resources for campaign purposes. An action that according to her spokesman, there is nothing wrong with.
Nevadans deserve better than Kate Marshall.
(Steve Martin is a former Nevada state Controller and Republican candidate for Nevada state Treasurer)