Kansas State Treasurer Jake LaTurner requested the introduction of a bill before the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee that would allow the State of Kansas to invest tens of millions in Israeli bonds, his office said in a statement on Wednesday.
As the law currently stands, Kansas allows the state’s Pooled Money Investment Board (PMIB) to purchases debt only from the United States and other American government agencies. Legislation from LaTurner would grant the committee the power to invest up to 2%, or some $76 million, of the state’s idle funds in bonds sold by the State of Israel.
The treasurer of Kansas called Israeli bonds, officially known as the Development Corporation for Israel, a safe investment for the state. It was founded in 1951 to raise money from the American public for the development of the Israeli state. It ranks among Israel’s most valued economic resources.
“We’ve made the statement that we are supportive of Israel with the anti-BDS legislation. I think that this naturally follows that,” LaTurner said. “But that’s not exclusively what this is about. This is about a first step in diversifying the state’s portfolio.”
LaTurner noted that “Twenty-eight other states across the country have similar authority and have seen bipartisan support when their legislature weighs in.” He added that “it is also an opportunity to strengthen a relationship with a long-time trade partner with Kansas that is very well connected in the world of business, agriculture, technology, and healthcare.”
In May, the Kansas Department of Agriculture participated in a trade mission to the Jewish State to attend three conferences and tour Israel’s agriculture and food-related sectors. Israel is among the leading countries in the agricultural sector and is well known for its water innovation.
Jacob Millner, Midwest Regional Director, and Senior Policy Analyst at The Israel Project, said: “We should applaud the Treasurer’s desire to diversify the investment portfolio while joining dozens of other states with investments in Israel bonds.” Millner called LaTurner’s decision “a great way for the state of Kansas to support Israel with sound financial investments that will ultimately benefit Kansas.”
He added that “most American state legislators, Democrat and Republican alike, understand that BDS is a hateful movement focused not on human rights, but on the destruction of Israel. Boycotting Israel for political purposes is unfair and creates a double standard, which the U.S. State Department has deemed a form of anti-Semitism.”
Some 60 Kansas companies are already doing business with the State of Israel, including Aerospace Controls Corporation, Garmin Communications, and Penny & Giles Aerospace. Israel currently ranks as one of Kansas’s top 20 trade partners.
Several U.S. states allow investments in Israeli bonds, including Mississippi, which joined the list in 2018. In Ohio, every treasurer since 1993, Democrat or Republican, has invested in those bonds.
[Photo: Mike Linksvayer / Flickr ]