Idaho Credit Union Day at the Capitol Brings Sunny Skies, Bright Message to Legislature

More than 100 advocates told legislators how credit unions serve nearly one million of their constituents, boost the economy, and support businesses on Main Street.

Group shot of Idaho credit union professionals.

Idaho credit union professionals gathered to advocate for the Credit Union Movement on Jan. 30 in Boise for Idaho Credit Union Day at the Capitol.

2/5/2019

They came from every corner of the Gem State to tell their elected officials about the Credit Union Difference. Advocates poured into Boise Jan. 30 for the Northwest Credit Union Association’s Credit Union Day at the Capitol against a backdrop of sunny skies and positive news. Idaho’s credit union membership is far outpacing the population growth, and credit unions’ financial performance is in the top tier of all categories that measure financial health.

A hot-off-the-presses headline they shared was the nearly $780 million boost credit unions delivered to the state’s economy last year—impact documented in a new independent analysis by ECONorthwest. Advocates were able to message what that means to the state’s members—$99 million in direct benefits such as lower loan rates, fewer fees, and better returns on savings—or nearly $100 in the pocket of every member.

“You deliver that cooperative value back to the members,” said Troy Stang, NWCUA President and CEO.  “When the members have more money in their pockets, they can spend more at the grocery store or hardware store. That’s value!”

A Message from Idaho Governor Brad Little

In a special keynote conversation with advocates, Gov. Brad Little thanked credit unions for providing the state’s growing population and business communities with access to capital “in a model that’s been wildly successful.”

The Governor, who took office just weeks ago after serving as Lt. Governor for a decade, outlined several key initiatives that resonated with the credit union audience.

He wants to create “the opportunity for our kids to stay here,” he told attendees.

To that end, he is introducing a First-Time Homebuyers’ Savings Account program. He asked for credit unions’ support and was assured by attendees that “this is in our wheelhouse.”

The Governor is also messaging removing regulatory barriers for both businesses and Idahoans wanting to enter the labor market. His first Executive Order will be to eliminate or significantly simplify two administrative rules for every new rule sought or issued by his administration. His second Executive Order seeks to review “onerous,” unnecessary state licensing.

Lunch with Their Legislators

More than 40 Idaho lawmakers accepted credit unions’ invitation to attend a luncheon, where CUNA Mutual Group Chief Economist Steven Rick discussed the economic outlook for Idaho’s financial services industry.

Legislators also heard from credit union advocates who live and work in their districts.

“You are a critical part of our interaction with our legislators, as you are the experts in your field” said Ryan Fitzgerald, NWCUA’s Vice President, Legislative Affairs for Idaho. “They love connecting with you.”

Honoring a Distinguished Regulator

Gavin Gee retired after more than 40 years in leadership regulating financial institutions in Idaho. He served as Director of the Department of Finance from 1996 until Jan. 15. Your Association and Day at the Capitol advocates honored Gee at a farewell reception.

“I appreciate all of you so much,” said Gee. “It truly has been a joy, and a pleasure for me to associate with you and your industry, and all the industries we’ve regulated for a very long period of time. You’ve really been a blessing in my life, and I thank you for it.”

Gee encouraged credit unions to “keep doing the great job you’re doing…continue to build our economy and strengthen Idaho, our residents, and all your members.”

Mary Hughes, also a veteran regulator with Finance, has been appointed Acting Director during Governor Little’s search for a replacement for Gee.

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Editor’s note: CUNA Mutual Group and your Association’s Strategic Link, Inc., sponsored the event, and American Share Insurance and Excess Share Insurance sponsored the colorful, signature scarves that advocates wore as they visited with legislators.