Treasurer Stenberg prepares to leave office after two terms

December 28, 2018

LINCOLN - State Treasurer Don Stenberg leaves office after serving two terms, the most he could serve.

This is the first of a two-part series.

Stenberg must leave office due to term limits, an office he’s proud of, especially the NEST Financial Scholars program which has taught financial literacy to more than 42,000 Nebraska students.

“I think that there’s a need for it,” Stenberg tells Nebraska Radio Network during an interview in his Capitol office. “I have advocated that either the state Board of Education or the Nebraska legislature require a financial literacy course in high school as a graduation requirement.”

Stenberg says the program has proven successful with tests taken by students afterward demonstrating big gains in how to draft a budget to keep from spending more than earned as well as a better understanding of credit, insurance, and taxes.

Stenberg also is proud of a relatively new program, the Enable program, successfully shepherded through the Unicameral by Sen. Kate Bolz of Lincoln. The program allows disabled Nebraskans, or their guardians, to save tax-free to pay for their expenses.

The Nebraska Educational Savings Trust, or NEST program, helps Nebraskans save tax-free for college. It has expanded well beyond Nebraska, with nearly 265,000 accounts nationwide, boasting nearly $5 billion in assets. There are four separate NEST plans, which consistently rank high in performance.

Officials with the Treasurer’s office have returned $96 million in unclaimed property to its rightful owners.

Stenberg says he has enjoyed the job.

“Being Treasurer, you get to help people save for their college education,” Stenberg says. “We’ve helped Nebraska students become more financially literate. We’ve returned unclaimed property to people. And, so, it’s been a fun job and a way to help a lot of our fellow Nebraskans.”

Stenberg became Treasurer after serving as the Nebraska Attorney General from 1991 to 2003. He began work at the Capitol as the legal counsel for Gov. Charles Thone, serving in that role from 1979 to 1983.

Tomorrow, Stenberg looks back on a career of public service and what might be in his future.

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