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State Treasurer Fitzgerald says state-run retirement program is a priority if he's re-elected

State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald speaks on the state fair's opening day.
Katarina Sostaric
State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald speaks at the Iowa State Fair Thursday.

Democratic State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald explained why he thinks Iowans should elect him to an 11th four-year term Thursday at the Iowa State Fair.

Speaking at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox, Fitzgerald said he wants to keep pushing the state to establish a retirement program for Iowans who don’t have a retirement plan through their employer.

“With half the people in Iowa approaching retirement age with no pension or retirement benefits, I think it’s a serious problem,” Fitzgerald said. “But we can do things to help Iowans prepare for retirement without costing us anything.”

Fitzgerald also said if he’s re-elected, he wants to try to return matured savings bonds held by the federal government to Iowans. And he said he will protect the state’s pension funds.

“I’ll fight to the last day to keep not just IPERS, but the peace officers and the judicial pension fund strong, and that’s important to Iowa,” he said.

The state treasurer deposits and invests state funds.

Fitzgerald was first elected state treasurer in 1982, and is the longest-serving state treasurer in the country. He touted the programs he started in his nearly four decades in office.

They include the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt, which seeks to return lost funds to Iowans, and the 529 education savings program. He also manages Iowa’s ABLE plan for Iowans with disabilities.

Republican state Sen. Roby Smith of Davenport is challenging Fitzgerald in the November election. As of Thursday, Smith did not appear on the schedule of Soapbox speakers. All candidates for statewide office were invited to speak there.

Before becoming a state senator, Smith was a banker for nearly 10 years and then became a small business owner.

Smith’s campaign website says he will work to protect Iowans’ financial privacy, improve financial literacy education, and will continue to raise awareness for the tax-free college savings program and a savings program for Iowans with disabilities. It also says Smith will ensure no Iowa tax dollars are invested in programs that benefit countries that support terrorism.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter