MUNSTER | A candidate for Indiana State Treasurer wants to steer more business to state banks, increase the tax credit for college savings and offer low-interest loan to women, minority and veteran entrepreneurs.

Democratic candidate Mike Boland, a former Illinois state lawmaker, touted his platform during a swing through Northwest Indiana last week, when he met with local union leaders. The biggest plank is his plan to invest state tax money exclusively in Indiana banks, and to only hire in-state financial consultants. He said he would place taxpayer dollars in any interested community banks, whether based out of Batesville, Munster or South Bend.

"We should put that money in Indiana banks in small towns and small cities," he said. "Those folks know who needs loans to expand a business, start a business or buy a home. It would improve the economy more than shipping it off to Wall Street."

Noting that St. Joseph County is pulling in 1.5 percent interest, Boland said he would strive to get a better rate of return than the 0.91 percent the state's treasurer's office is now getting.

"Anybody could do better at their local bank or credit union," he said.

Richard Mourdock had been state treasurer until he resigned last week, four months before the end of his term, before a change in state retirement benefits would have cut his pension income. Gov. Mike Pence appointed Indiana Finance Authority chief financial officer Daniel Huge to fill in as interim treasurer.

The Republican Party has controlled the statewide office, which is responsible for managing the state's finances, since 1979. Kelly Mitchell, a Valparaiso University graduate, is the Republican nominee. Mike Jasper is running as a Libertarian candidate.

If elected, Boland said he would use the office as a bully pulpit and try to persuade the legislature to increase the tax credit for the 549 college savings plan to 25 percentfrom 20 percent. He also would actively promote the program statewide in the hope of boosting the number of college graduates, giving Indiana a better educated workforce, and improving the economy.

Other ideas include encouraging more saving by offering state matches for poverty-stricken people who able to put $400 a year into a savings account, creating a new veterans lottery ticket and requiring that all American flags purchased by the government be made in America.

Indiana could use some of its $2 billion surplus to lower interest rates for student loans and subsidize business loans to women, veterans and minorities who want to open businesses, or expand them, Boland said. The state would put money in banks so they could use it to give loans to such entrepreneurs at a lower rate of interest.

"They will say they need the $2 billion reserve for another recession," he said. "Well, we just made it through the Great Recession, the worst since the Great Depression of my parent's era. If you didn't use it then, when are you going to use it? It shouldn't just be a political trophy for when the governor runs for president."

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Business reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.