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State treasurer speaks to Rotary

North Dakota Treasurer Kelly Schmidt spoke to the Jamestown Rotary Club at its recent meeting. Vince Gregor, Rotary member, introduced her to the group.

As state treasurer, Schmidt serves as a member of the North Dakota State Investment Board, the Teachers Fund for Retirement Board, State Canvassing Board, State Board of Tax Equalization, North Dakota State Historical Society and the North Dakota Board of University and School Lands. She said she is the envy of other state treasurers because of the healthy surplus that North Dakota enjoys. She talked about the Legacy Fund, which now has $2.5 billion but cannot be touched until 2017 and only earnings spent at that time.

Schmidt’s North Dakota office has developed a website that explains all 180  funds in her department. She said $2 billion has been set aside for infrastructure and transportation. She said the public should talk to their state legislators about how that money should be spent.

Schmidt said state money is invested in the Bank of North Dakota. North Dakota has the only state-owned bank in the nation. The state is now playing catch-up with service because no one imagined how the oil business would take off, she said. North Dakota has one of the highest tax rates — 11.5 percent — in the country for oil producers. Oil is being produced at 1 million barrels a day. Schmidt said there were no accountants when she started in the treasurer’s office, but now there are five who are always busy.

Nick Schmidt presided over the meeting. Sergeant-at-Arms Austin Bauer collected “Happy Dollars,” and Doug Frohlich gave the invocation. Songs were led by Reuben Liechty with Jackie Tews on the piano.

Jennifer Bollingberg gave a three-minute talk. She is from Wishek, N.D., graduated from North Dakota State University and is now a certified public accountant. She said she enjoys softball and downhill skiing. She and her husband have a 2-year-old son.

Bob Badal is in charge of today’s program, Marv Tokach will be song leader and Kyle Wensmann will be the sergeant-at-arms. Carrie Orn will lead the invocation.