WASHINGTON--Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) has made financial literacy one of her top priorities, and it is one credit unions share, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney emphasized Friday to consumer advocates and co-op leaders attending the Consumer Federation of America's (CFA) annual "Consumer in the Financial Services Revolution" conference in Washington, D.C.
Cheney, a member of the CFA board, was asked to introduce Biggert, whom he noted "is widely respected on Capitol Hill for her leadership on the issue of financial literacy."
Biggert is a member of the House Financial Services Committee and chairs its subcommittee in insurance, housing and community opportunity. She also co-chairs the House Financial and Economic Literacy Caucus. Cheney pointed out
Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) and CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney prepare to address the Consumer Federation of America's annual consumer finance meeting in Washington on the importance of consumer financial education. (CUNA photo)
Biggert was first elected to the House in 1998 with support from CUNA, the Illinois Credit Union System and the state's credit unions.
Biggert understands credit union's structure as not-for-profit, member-owned cooperatives "is an essential structural and philosophical difference that sets credit unions apart from the for-profit banking sector," Cheney told the CFA group. "Not every member of Congress 'gets it,' but Congresswoman Biggert most certainly is one who does."
In her comments, Biggert emphasized that the need for financial education is greater than ever, and the need remains whether economic times are good or bad.
She noted, for example, 60% of pre-teens don't know the difference between cash, a credit card and checks, 50% of high schoolers get failing marks on financial literacy tests, and only 25% of those between 13 and 21 say their parents teach them how to manage money.
Raising awareness about the issue among federal lawmakers is one reason she organizes Capitol Hill financial literacy fairs, where she noted credit unions and CUNA have taken part. The congresswoman noted she also has held seminars with Congressional FCU on financially empowering women.
Another of her financial-issue priorities, she added, is flood insurance reform legislation, which she noted has passed the House but still awaits action in the Senate.
CUNA served on the CFA's financial services conference advisory committee and is a charter member of CFA.