Cheyenne, Wyo. - During a time when Wyoming is facing significant funding shortfalls, the Wyoming State Treasurer's Office has released its annual report showing state investments grew by $1.17 billion over the past fiscal year.
This marks the fund's best performance above the state's benchmark over the past ten years.
"Wyoming relies on investment income more than ever before," said Wyoming State Treasurer Mark Gordon. "Already the returns have become one of the top three contributors to our state's general fund. They provide a significant part of financing for our education system, a crucial ingredient of assuring a bright future, and a means of assuring Wyoming will continue to be a low tax state far into that future. The importance of these returns to our state's wellbeing will only grow in the years to come."
From July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017, the State's four permanent funds had returns ranging from 9.4% to 8.4%. The State Agency Pool, which might be compared to our state's checkbook, mainly invests in short duration bonds to maintain the ready cash needed to pay our bills. It had a return of 1.1%. The total assets for the period grew to $20.756 billion compared to $19.581 billion on June 30, 2016. The total of all funds had a return of 6.10 %. That return represents outperformance of 94 basis points over the state's stated benchmark return of 5.16%. Overall, this is the fund's best performance above the state's benchmark over the past decade.
The State Treasurer's Office manages $20.8 billion in non-pension investable funds across seven fund types. Five funds, the Permanent Wyoming Mineral Trust Fund, the Permanent Land Funds, the Hathaway Scholarship Endowment Fund, the Excellence in Higher Education Endowment Fund and the Workers' Compensation
Fund may hold equities (stocks) under current law. The other two funds, the State
Agency Pool and the Tobacco Settlement Fund, cannot. The State Agency Pool acts as an operating fund for the state and, as a result, is less likely to deliver the impressive returns longer-term investments can sometimes yield. On the other hand, because its holdings are similar to cash, it is better protected from market fluctuations preserving value regardless of market circumstances.
With the aim of continuing to improve transparency and expand public outreach, this year the Treasurer's office launched a new website, pushed a statewide effort to educate the public on Constitutional Amendment A, established and hosted the Stroock International Sovereign Wealth Forum, openly recast the asset allocations for each of Wyoming's funds and reorganized the Unclaimed Property department. The Treasurer's office also modernized, internalized and revised antiquated and obsolete systems that no longer met the State's increasing needs.
"We undertook these efforts for two principle reasons," said Treasurer Gordon. "First, we saw the opportunity to make the Treasurer's Office more efficient. Second, we understood the Treasurer's Office could improve its performance while proportionally reducing the budget needed to run it. In short we knew we could do it better, for less."
These efforts garnered Wyoming the number 3 ranking worldwide for transparency among all sovereign funds, coming in just behind Norway and New Zealand and ahead of all domestic peers.