With two daughters heading to college in the next couple of weeks, student loan debt hits home with Conroy. He wants to be a "people's banker" and "break down" financial obstacles "so that people can afford college and...are not drowning in debt afterwards for decades." The way forward, he said, is to reduce interest rates on student loans and expand loan forgiveness programs or other debt relief to graduates.
One way to encourage low-interest loans is by investing more of the state's assets in local banks, as opposed to investing overseas or on
"It helps create jobs and it helps grow the economy," Conroy said. Banks end up with "stronger balance sheets" and greater lending capacity for individuals and small businesses, such as offering more affordable college loans and home mortgages.
In an editorial board meeting at
Conroy, a 52-year-old
As treasurer, Conroy said he would use
He would work to reform the state's lottery system to make it less regressive on the poor, capture millions in non-taxable revenue and consider if there's a point of diminishing returns. He said the lottery needs to run like a business to be as efficient and effective as possible.
Like his opponents, Conroy does not favor casino gaming in the state. He forecast problems with casinos eight years ago, when a long-term analysis showed casino gambling could have a negative effect on lottery revenues, meaning millions of local aid lost for cities and towns.
Conroy wants to convene a task force of national experts who have dealt with casinos and a working lottery system and who can offer up solutions to mitigate losses, ensure revenues return to local aid and maintain those levels, while also improving the lottery.
As a financial management consultant in the 1990s with companies and state agencies nationwide, Conroy said he helped establish best practices and identify untapped sources of non-tax revenue that were then used to hire new teachers, nurses or retain employees. He wants to take a similar approach to state agencies here by partnering with
Conroy also weighed in briefly on Market Basket, saying it needs to be resolved sooner than later for the sake of thousands of employees and millions of customers. He said he would gladly scrutinize the fishing industry or other areas that are struggling.
There's a lot of pushback from business interests on raising the minimum wage, Conroy said, but he argues that it allows low-wage workers to pay their bills and offset some public assistance. It also provides those employees with discretionary income they can spend locally, he said.
"Behind every number is a face and a family," he said.
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