(AP) — Online lottery sales, sports betting and the state pension fund are some of the top issues in the race for Massachusetts state treasurer pitting Republican state Rep. Keiko Orrall against Democratic incumbent Deb Goldberg.
On nearly every issue, Orrall has argued the state can do better than it has under the leadership of Goldberg, who is seeking a second four-year term in the Nov. 6 election. Green-Rainbow Party candidate Jamie Guerin is also running for treasurer.
That includes the treasury’s unclaimed property division, which helps people search for forgotten savings and checking accounts as well as the contents of unattended safe deposit boxes.
Orrall says Goldberg hasn’t worked hard enough to return the money.
“When you owe the government money, they certainly come after you. I believe we need to do more of an effort. We’re only returning 10 percent of that money,” Orrall said this week during a debate with Goldberg on WGBH-TV. “That is not an acceptable rate of return.”
Goldberg defended the division’s efforts, saying her office had to hire more customer service representatives due to the success of a new software system installed last year that reunited people with their property.
“We’re number one in the country in returning unclaimed property,” Goldberg said.
According to the Treasurer’s office, the state returned about $118 million in unclaimed property in the 2018 fiscal year that ended June 30, up from the $100 million returned in the previous fiscal year. The Treasury is currently holding about $3.4 billion in unclaimed property, including the values of unclaimed stocks and mutual funds.
The two also sparred about online lottery sales. The treasurer’s office oversees the lottery.
Goldberg said moving the lottery online is inevitable given that so many other transactions are already done on the internet. She pointed out neighboring New Hampshire has already begun allowing people to play the lottery online. And in May, she says the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized sports betting set a precedent the lottery should follow.
“If sports betting is given the capacity to go online, then the lottery needs be online, too,” she said.
Orrall is more skeptical about pushing the lottery online, saying it could hurt stores that rely on selling lottery tickets to help boost their sales.
“I’ve talked to enough small businesses that are concerned about the traffic into their brick-and-mortar stores that we need to carefully look at that issue,” Orrall said.
Orrall said she was open to considering sports betting, which she expected her fellow state lawmakers to take up during the new session that begins in January.
“We should be an active participant,” she said. “We should be looking into it.”
Orrall also took issue with Goldberg’s proposal to divest the state’s pension fund from gun manufacturers.
“We need to be looking at the best rate of return. We have Smith & Wesson in Springfield. That’s not the way that we should be conducting the pension fund investments,” Orrall said.
But Orrall said the problem with the pension fund’s unfunded liability runs deeper and there needs to be a stronger partnership with the legislature to help close it — something she said she could provide having served in the House.
Goldberg said her office is working to strengthen the pension fund.
In addition to their differences on a number of state issues, both candidates are on different sides of the aisle when it comes to their support for President Donald Trump. Orrall said she’s planning on supporting Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign despite what she called “an unusual personality.” Goldberg said she’d give Trump a “D″ grade, saying he plays to people’s worst instincts.