Miss. Treasurer Lynn Fitch: MPACT and Financial Literacy
By: Knox Graham
JACKSON, Miss.—Mississippi Treasurer Lynn Fitch spoke the media on Friday about two different topics of which both children were the main focus.
First Fitch spoke about a financial literacy bill she is proposing to the legislature dealing with financial education in the schools.
“Currently there are only four state that mandate personal finance,” she said.
She spoke about trying to reach kids early with education on how to handle money instead of waiting until it’s too late and they’re in debt shortly after they graduate from high school.
“We do have some levels of personal finance but it’s not mandated in our state,” Fitch added.
And currently there’s no benchmark or certification a teacher must have that mandates they’re qualified to even teach such a class.
The cost to implement mandatory financial education into the state would be one time cost of around $5 million according to the treasurer.
She closed with, “We need to make that change and be a very much so force for our children.”
And the second topic that was talked about was the MPACT college-saving plan that has been in the news recently for financial troubles.
An independent audit was just completed while the program enrollment is on hold and Fitch said the findings gave her “significant heartburn.”
Currently Mississippi is one of four states that have an equivalent program in the country and only two of those are fully funded.
MPACT is currently in the mid 70% as far as funding is concerned and that’s an obvious problem. Fitch did remark though that 90% funded would be wonderful.
One of the biggest questions that continues to pop up about the program is what about the people that are already enrolled in the program.
“If you’re an investor in that program you’re in a good position,” she said.
Good position is a relative term but mostly importantly your money is guaranteed and you can rest assured you don’t have to worry about what you’ve put in as it’s protected Fitch urged.
As previously mentioned there are only four states that have equivalent programs, but that’s not because no more have tried. At least ten other states have failed and shut their programs down like our neighbors Alabama and Tennessee. Even Texas that is known for money shut their program down.
So that begged the question to whether or not MPACT could be shut down. The short answer is yes. Fitch explained that is most definitely not her goal though and phase two of looking into the program will continue for the next three to four months as a lot of the financial information from the audit is still very preliminary
“We had to be very diligent and continue to looks behind the layers due to the financial status of the country and our state,” she explained.
More should be known in the future for MPACT but only time will tell if the program survives.