FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 11, 2018) — Unclaimed state property would be the only source of funding for operation of the Office of the State Treasury under a bill approved Thursday by a legislative committee.
State Treasurer Allison Ball appeared before the House State Government Committee today with Rep. Ken Fleming, R-Louisville, in support of House Bill 88. Sponsored by Fleming, the bill would allow all expenses for the Office of the State Treasurer to be paid out of the state’s abandoned property fund, freeing up the agency’s remaining state General Fund and Road Fund appropriations for other budget needs.
The agency currently receives approximately $2 million in General Fund dollars each fiscal year and approximately $250,000 from the Road Fund, said Ball.
“In the grand scheme it’s not an enormous amount of money, but every penny helps,” she said.
Ball hopes to make changes quickly, should HB 88 become law. The bill includes an emergency clause, requiring it to take effect immediately upon being signed by the governor or otherwise becoming law.
“You all are tasked with fixing the pension problem, so we wanted this to operate immediately,” she told the committee.
The Office of the State Treasurer now gets about half its funding from the state’s abandoned property fund, a nearly 80-year-old fund worth nearly half a billion dollars that collects unclaimed assets from dormant bank accounts and other sources, said Ball. It collects roughly $30 million to $37 million over what it returns to claimants every fiscal year.
The size of the abandoned property fund piqued the interest of Rep. Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, who asked Ball how her office gets the word out about the fund’s existence. Ball called her office’s campaign to return unclaimed property to its owners “aggressive,” with over 41 percent of unclaimed property returned in recent years.
“We have been very aggressive, as you can see by the numbers,” she said, adding that the return rate exceeds the national average.
“We’ve gotten to the point now where we are actually taking our own initiative to identity (entities) that have unclaimed property,” including school boards, nonprofits and others, Ball said.
HB 88 passed the House State Government Committee and now goes to the full House for consideration.