Florida’s top financial official is blazing a path for fiscal conservatism, from eliminating wasteful spending and woke investments to reuniting residents with their unclaimed money in forgotten accounts.
Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis’ latest innovation is the creation of the Florida Treasure Hunt, where residents can reach out and be reunited with their unclaimed funds.
“You will find an unbelievable treasure trove,” Patronis recently told the “Just the News, No Noise” TV show. “One in five Floridians has something there. It’s utility deposits, cable deposits, uncashed paychecks-you name it. It is in our treasury and we would just would love to reunite you with your lost money.”
According to the Florida Treasure Hunt website, $388 million in lost funds was paid back to Floridians in 2021.
The Chief Financial Officer has also taken action to combat wasteful government spending.
“Since I took office as CFO in 2017, I’ve made it my mission to be a good steward of taxpayer dollars and keep Florida’s fiscal house in order,” Patronis said in a statement to Just the News.
“Our state has maintained an excellent AAA bond rating for the past four years and we have paid down more than $9.8 billion in state debt since 2011,” he said. “I applauded Governor DeSantis for vetoing $4.5 billion out of the state budget in the past two years, a prudent measure as our nation faces a looming economic downturn caused by rising inflation and high interest rates.”
Patronis has also taken on woke investment, such as the Environmental Social Governance (ESG) movement seeking to eliminate fossil fuels from portfolios, arguing the state should focus on return on investment over ideology. He recently moved the state’s investments away from BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager and an aggressive champion of ESG investing.
“As Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, it’s my responsibility to get the best returns possible for taxpayers,” Patronis said in a statement earlier this month.
“The more effective we are in investing dollars to generate a return, the more effective we’ll be in funding priorities like schools, hospitals and roads,” he explained. “As major banking institutions and economists predict a recession in the coming year, and as the Fed increases interest rates to combat the inflation crisis, I need partners within the financial services industry who are as committed to the bottom line as we are — and I don’t trust BlackRock’s ability to deliver.”
Patronis has not been the only one to distance his state from BlackRock. West Virginia Treasurer Riley Moore announced in January of 2022 that West Virginia would pull its assets from BlackRock investment funds due to the company’s ties to China and stance on ESG.
Florida’s “finances are the best they’ve ever been in the history of the state of Florida,” Patronis said. “But I know we’re in a recession, I know it’s going to get worse — and I need fund managers who have their head in the game. I need to be one hundred percent focused on the bottom line and return on investment.”
“In the case of BlackRock, they’re running in the middle of the pack, and they definitely showed me that their mission … is very heavily focused on ESG, which is not in my opinion in the best fiduciary responsibility for the taxpayers of the state of Florida.”