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Inside Olympia — State Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti

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This week, host Austin Jenkins sits down for the full hour with Washington State Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti. 

Pellicciotti is heading to Washington D.C. soon to lobby for congressional approval of the so-called SAFE Banking Act. The act would help businesses and employees in states where cannabis is legal. Currently such businesses have a hard time getting bank services — resulting in the dangerous practice of doing conducting their business in cash — and employees often have their credit ratings flagged due to their source of income. The SAFE proposal has passed the U.S. House seven times, but only recently did the measure for the first time win approval from a Senate Committee. This time, full congressional approval could happen. 

As treasurer, Pellicciotti plays the role of financial advisor to the Legislature, offering recommendations on such topics as how much the state budget should hold in reserve, and how much debt the state should carry. He credits the Legislature with following his recommendations, when results in high credit ratings for the state and the ability to borrow money at favorable interest rates.  

This summer, the treasurer held a series of town halls throughout Washington on the issue of retirement savings. Which, in the case of many Washington workers, are weak or non-existent. Pellicciotti said that while Washington is known as a leader among the states on many issues, on the issue of policies that make retirement saving easier, our state is behind. One message from the town halls: whatever the solution, it needs to be simple. He’s working with legislators to try to find consensus solutions. 

As treasurer Pellicciotti also focuses on state investments and the fiscal health of state pension systems, both of which he discusses in some depth in the interview. Learn more about state finances, as we go in-depth with Washington State Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti.