Brad Lager, 33, of Maryville, is the Republican candidate for state treasurer. He stopped in Neosho Thursday afternoon to appear at a meet and greet session with party faithful at the Lampo Center.

A current state senator hopes to take his experience as a small business owner to the state treasurer’s office.

Brad Lager, 33, of Maryville, is the Republican candidate for state treasurer. He stopped in Neosho Thursday afternoon to appear at a meet and greet session with party faithful at the Lampo Center.

Lager grew up in the Maryville area on a small farm in a family he described as being “not politically active at all” and earned a degree in business and computer science from Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville. After college, he began a small wireless company in northwest Missouri.

“To make a long story short, every day I got up and debated with bureaucratic agencies,” he said. “I learned there was an out-of-control regulatory environment. I was a young guy and idealistic. I thought if we were going to change it, guys like us would have to get involved and do it.”

In 2001, Lager was elected to the Maryville City Council, and was the city’s youngest city councilman ever. The following year, he sought and won a state representative seat, serving as 4th district rep for four years. During his tenure, he served as vice-chair, and later chair, of the House Budget Committee, also serving on the house committees for professional registration and licensing, transportation and motor vehicles, appropriations for agriculture and natural resources, policy development committee and the legislative research oversight committee.

“My philosophy on the state budget is that government has to live within its means, just like you and I do,” he said. “You can’t spend more than you bring in.”

In 2006, Lager obtained a seat in the state senate, where he serves on the joint committee on tax policy, the ways and means committee and as vice chair of the governmental accountability and fiscal oversight committee.

“I have a simple philosophy: Every taxpayer dollar should be invested and spent on development for the benefit of the taxpayer,” he said.

He said before Sarah Steelman took office in 2004, her predecessor invested funds in institutions outside of Missouri. Since then, she has invested $1 billion in Missouri companies, and instituted the 529 fund, a college savings plan for Missouri families. Steelman decided not to seek reelection to make a bid for the governor’s office, but lost to U.S. Congressman Kenny Hulshof in the Republican primary earlier this month.

Lager said he wanted to do all he could to continue Steelman’s work in the treasurer’s office, particularly in making safe investments, cultivating economic development in the state, and continuing the college savings plan.

“I have a daughter, Addison, who is 11 months old,” he said. “One day, I decided to look up what college would cost for her. By the time she goes through school, and if she enters a four-year public institution, her college will cost $260,000. That’s assuming an average rate of tuition increases over the next 30 years that have taken place over the last 30.

“That tells me to start saving early, start young. I’m the guy to do it. I’m an advocate for higher education savings, and will do what I can to facilitate people to save.”

Lager said while he believes in scholarships, grants and loans, he also believes that a person should fund at least part of his or her education themselves.

“I’m a guy who philosophically believes when you’re spending someone else’s money, you spend it differently than when you spend your own,” he said. “I’m a big believer in scholarships and in public and private partnerships. But I think you respect and appreciate something more when you work for it.”

Lager said as a small business owner, he has a lot to offer the office of state treasurer.

“It’s always good to have someone watching over money who understands how difficult it is to go out and make money,” he said. “I understand the challenge of going out every day to make a dollar, that it takes time, effort and sweat equity.”