Missouri House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith, R-Carthage, wants to take his political career to the next level. He is running for state treasurer in 2024.

As state treasurer, he would handle the state’s bank accounts, investments, unclaimed property, and educational scholarships to let special needs students go to the school of their choice, among other things.

“I think the duties of the state treasurer are a good fit for me,” Smith told Missourinet. “Given my experience and background, I’m passionate about returning taxpayer dollars to hard working Missourians. It’s their money ultimately and they should get it back. The treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Program offers the opportunity to do that and has other roles that would allow me the opportunity to work on fiscal policy and ultimately strive to make government most efficient.”

Smith is a small business owner and realtor in southwest Missouri. He was elected to the House in 2016 and has been serving there ever since. Smith has served as House budget chair for the past five legislative sessions.

He is known for proposing to slash $4.5 million in state funding to libraries this year in response to the Missouri Library Association, the ACLU, and the Missouri Association of School Libraries suing the state over a Missouri law that limits what materials can be in school libraries. The Missouri Senate overturned Smith’s move.

In 2020, 53% of Missouri voters backed a ballot measure to expand Medicaid coverage to roughly 275,000 low-income adults. Smith led a 2021 legislative effort to defund the dollars to cover the expansion population in that next state budget year. The Missouri Supreme Court ruled against the legislature’s decision.

Smith said he’s running based on his record and experience.

“I have a clear record of being a conservative voice in fiscal policy in Missouri,” he said. “And I’ve had success cutting taxes, eliminating public debt and balancing the state budget. It was my great honor to carry the legislation last summer that was, at the time, the biggest tax cut in the state’s history. And that will total to about a billion dollars overall, once it’s fully implemented in savings to Missouri taxpayers. So that’s probably the highlight of my legislative career.”

If elected, he plans to get to work in a few areas.

“There are opportunities to leverage technology to utilize the Unclaimed Property program to help reach out to Missourians in a low-cost way to help them retrieve their unclaimed property, get those taxpayer dollars back to them. Additionally, the treasurer serves on a few different boards that are impactful to the state’s financial health,” said Smith. “The MOSERS board, which is the state employees pension program. Additionally, the Missouri Housing Commission, which oversees a lot of tax credits related to housing, those are very impactful programs and areas for the state’s financial health. And taking my kind of common sense conservative approach to those roles, or those opportunities, I think could definitely make an impact for taxpayers.”

Smith, who supports the MO Scholars program, scholarships awarded to special needs students, said the program is too restricted. The state provides tax credits to the donors of the scholarships. The scholarships can be used for private, public, online and home schooling, as well as tutoring, therapies, and other school-related expenses.

“The legislature took a small first step to create the program, but it’s shackled with restrictions that I think ultimately need to be removed. It’s limited to children with an IEP, which is individual education plan only. It’s also means tested, so not everyone qualifies based on their income, and most frustratingly, it’s geographically restricted. So you must live in a city of over 35,000 people to take part in the program. As an example, I live in Carthage. We’re 12 miles away from Joplin. Kids in Carthage don’t qualify, the kids in Joplin do qualify. I think that’s very frustrating. And that program needs to be expanded to offer to all Missourians because all Missourians deserve access to world class education,” he said.

Fellow Republican and sitting state treasurer, Vivek Malek, is running to keep his job. Malek was appointed by Gov. Mike Parson this year to serve in the role after Republican Scott Fitzpatrick was elected as state auditor.

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