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Fitzpatrick appointed state treasurer

Fitzpatrick appointed state treasurer

December 20th, 2018 by Philip Joens in Missouri News

Scott Fitzpatrick speaks to guests and members of the press Dec. 19 during a news conference by Gov. Mike Parson naming him as the new Missouri state treasurer.

Photo by Sally Ince /News Tribune.

Gov. Mike Parson filled the latest vacancy for a statewide elected office Wednesday afternoon when he named state Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick as Missouri's next state treasurer.

Fitzpatrick, R-Cassville, currently serves as the chair of the House Budget Committee. In January, he will take over as state treasurer for incoming Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who Parson selected last month to replace incoming U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley.

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Parson said Fitzpatrick has more experience and knowledge of the state budget than any other elected official.

"As the House Budget chair, he built a proven track record of being a wise steward and protector of the people's money," Parson said.

Fitzpatrick, 31, owns a marine manufacturing and construction company in the Cassville area. The three-term Republican was first elected to the House in 2012 at age 25 and led the budget committee the past two years. In the spring, Fitzpatrick helped craft the state's $28.3 billion budget.

"He is certainly no stranger to effectively managing business and government budgets," Parson said.

On Wednesday, Fitzpatrick said he became interested in finance at a young age, so he felt the job fit him well.

"Having the opportunity to serve as state treasurer, it's not just another office for me," Fitzpatrick said. "It's something I really think I'm going to look forward to doing and enjoy."

By the time Fitzpatrick takes office in January, four of Missouri's six statewide officeholders will be in jobs to which they were not elected. Parson was elected as lieutenant governor in 2016, but became governor in June after former Gov. Eric Greitens resigned.

Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe served as a state senator and was elected in 2014, but was prohibited by term limits from running for a third term. Shortly after Parson became governor in June, he named Kehoe lieutenant governor.

In mid-November, Parson named Schmitt as the state's new attorney general after Hawley unseated outgoing Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill. Schmitt was elected as state treasurer in 2016.

The governor's seat and treasurer's seat will be up for re-election in 2020.

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft was elected in 2016 for a term that runs through 2020. State Auditor Nicole Galloway won a new four-year term in November.

Parson did not say when Fitzpatrick will take office. First several dominoes need to finish falling.

The U.S. Senate will hold its first session Jan. 3. After that, Schmitt needs to be sworn in as Missouri attorney general before Fitzpatrick can be sworn in as treasurer.

"We're going to be very cautious how we move forward finding out that date," Parson said. "I'm not sure what that date will be yet."

Fitzpatrick's predecessor expressed concern in September about the Missouri State Employees Retirement System, which faced an unfunded liability of approximately $5 billion at the time. Like Schmitt, Fitzpatrick also sits on the system's board of trustees and said there's been problems assuming high rates-of-return on the system's investments.

Problems with the MOSERS system need to be addressed, Fitzpatrick said. Despite recent corrections in the stock market, the system's investments are on solid ground, he said.

"A retirement system is a very long-term approach to investing, and we're not looking to make a lot of money really quick. We're looking to make a little bit of money every year," he said.

State Rep. Sarah Walsh, R-Ashland, serves on the budget committee with Fitzpatrick and said he will be a steward of state fiscal resources.

"We're going to miss him in budget, but looking forward to seeing the great things he does," Walsh said.