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Send the Observer to name address city state zip this subscription is for myself gift subscription: send card in my name $204enclosed for a one-year subscription bill me for $20 name address city state zip THE TEXAS OBSERVER 600 W. 7th, Austin, Texas 78701 8 OCTOBER 14, 1983 generates enthusiastic press releases that are incorporated into glowing news stories about finding lost treasures. The state Treasury wants to give us money. Richards stepped up collection and distribution of unclaimed property: by May, the Treasury collections of unpaid property were running 51% ahead of last year, and payments to account holders were up 89 % . Unclaimed property also produces a glowing bottom line for the state, since more accounts come in than people to claim them. This year marked the first time the state returned more than a million dollars to account holders; in the same time, the Treasury had collected nine and a half million in property, with the eight and one-half million dollar difference between the two sums earning interest for the state. Though her story tracks Bullock’s in the rough outline, Richards differs with her old friends on the particulars. Richards didn’t merely Bullock-ize the Treasury. Though Bullock had gotten impressive results from his staff, his capricious firings and stressful work environment had given him a Simon Legree reputation. Richards wanted people to increase production and efficiency because they liked their jobs, not out of fear. She’s put the office on flextime, for example; previously, the Treasury closed at five en punto, and the lights were turned off. Now employees conform their working hours to the needs of the office, staying late at their busiest periods and taking off during slack times. She asked the employees’ advice on how to improve the office, and paid attention to symbols like keeping the staff on a first-name basis. She borrowed art from local museums to brighten up the deadening institutionality of the state office building. And the 1984 budget contains a hefty sum for redecorating. Judy Davis, who is in charge of purchasing for the office and whose 25 years in the treasury span the terms of both Harding and James, says the biggest difference is the “freedom to act like an adult.” “It’s absolutely fantastic to work under Ann to be treated like a human being, like you have a little sense and that what you’re doing is important.” THOUGH THE effects of Richards’ policies on Texas banks are just beginning to be felt, most bankers seem to be accepting the fact that the won’t be getting free money under Richards. They look instead to protect the “spread” between the interest rate the state gets from the banks for its money and the interest the bank can charge for lending the assets out again. Richards’ policies favor toward those who can deal with the money most quickly: the powerful bank holding companies. But those institutions don’t tend to keep the money at home for development. Their money goes where it can make the most money out of state, and internationally. Bankers today like to say that “money knows no boundaries.” Some people don’t think that’s the right attitude when it’s the state’s money that is being talked about. They would like to see ways to keep Texas money at home for in-state development, the way it was in the Jesse James days. Meetings of the advisory board search for a compromise that allows the Treasury to make money \(thus throwing out the bad of the James and Harding money at home \(thus preserving the good effects of the old Harding and James To fight the capital flight, a “Texas first” protectionism is sometimes suggested, but there is no agreement as to what benefits Texas best. One such attempt was the bill that allows the treasurer to deposit up to 20 % of its funds into savings and loans, which generally plow their funds back to the local economy. Though this caused a struggle with the banks \(who understandably don’t Richards’ financial policies will eventually shake the smaller banks off the state money tree, because they will not be able to afford to provide high-roller services like repos and quick transactions on massive sums, or paying interest on such large deposits. ‘In late August, 65 rural and small banks returned $50 million to the Treasury, complaining that they could not afford to pay the 9.81% interest rate the Treasury had set for those deposits. Still, as part of larger economic trends of the last decade that favor the giant bank holding companies over the smaller banks, Richards’ policies do little more than grease the skids. Richards has won over the toughest constituency. Many bankers had initial apprehensions about Richards. Whatever the initial feelings, the business cornmunity is happy with her today and appreciates the job she has done cleaning up the Treasury. That is still a little surprising, since for all her present expertise, Richards probably knew little about banking before her run at the Treasury
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