Indiana treasurer hopeful Mike Boland says he'd be a 'taxpayer's advocate'

Boland, 71, is traveling through Indiana to promote his candidacy.

Posted on July 21, 2014 at 3:28 p.m.

ELKHART — Mike Boland, Democratic hopeful for the Indiana treasurer’s post, would be more than an administrator if elected.

He said he’d be a “taxpayer’s advocate,” pushing for change that promotes education and helps working people, among other things. "You can make the role pretty much what you want it to be,“ Boland said Monday, July 21, during a visit to The Elkhart Truth.

Notably, he’d promote increased investment of Indiana tax funds in Indiana banks, not on Wall Street, and would promote Indiana’s college savings plan.

Richard Mourdock, the controversial GOP candidate for U.S. Senate in 2012, is finishing up his second term as treasurer and can’t seek re-election due to term limits. Boland, a former state lawmaker from Illinois now living in Fishers, is the Democratic hopeful and Kelly Mitchell, currently an employee in the treasurer’s office, is the GOP hopeful.

Here’s more on Boland and his bid:

Indiana First: The push to invest more taxpayer funding in Indiana is what Boland calls his Indiana First initiative. One of the key responsibilities of Indiana treasurer is overseeing investment of Indiana money — tens of billions of dollars a year, Boland said — until it is distributed or spent.

Parallel to investing more here in Indiana, he’d promote programs that spur banks holding state funds to loan the money out. Banks could be required to offer loans at lower interest rates to farmers, small business operators or college students, say, as a condition of handling Indiana funds.

Boland criticized Mourdock, who lost to U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly in his 2012 Senate bid, for what he said was focusing investment on Wall Street. He also lamented the 0.91 percent rate of return Mourdock achieved in 2013, saying he’d strive for better.

College savings: Boland would use the bully pulpit as treasurer to promote investment in Indiana’s 529 savings plans, programs meant to encourage parents and others to start saving early for children’s college education.

The programs offer tax credits on funds invested and Boland would push to increase the credit to spur increased participation, action that state legislators would have to permit. "I’d like not only to promote it, but also to expand it,” he said.

Tax cuts: State legislators are responsible for fixing the level of taxation, but Boland would push to make sure any cuts benefit working Hoosiers “and especially senior citizens.”

He’d also advocate on behalf of cities and school districts to make sure any tax cuts don’t undercut them. Property tax caps approved by lawmakers in 2008 have hit local governmental entities hard, reducing funding entering their coffers. During the legislative session earlier this year, lawmakers debated a reduction in the business property tax, also eyed with concern by some local government officials.

Veterans lottery tickets: Boland also touted creation of a lottery ticket that would generate funding for programs for veterans in the state.

Background: Boland, 71, is a retired middle school and college history and government instructor.

He served eight two-year terms in the Illinois House as a representative from the Quad Cities area, from 1995 through 2010. He moved to Indiana in 2012 to be closer to grandchildren and other family here, he said. The move followed losses in bids in Illinois for lieutenant governor and the Illinois Senate, according to an Indiana Public Media report.

Since nomination as the Democratic candidate about six weeks ago, Boland estimates he has visited 24 newspapers across Indiana.

Follow reporter Tim Vandenack on Twitter at @timvandenack or visit him on Facebook.

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