This past week, Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration and Treasurer John Schroder finally struck an agreement ending an over three-year dispute over Louisiana’s unclaimed property money. The plan is a win-win for both of the important initiatives the Governor and Treasurer have been fighting for. This plan will free up millions to spend in the upcoming budget as Edwards wants, but keep the unclaimed property dollars in a trust fund for the future, as Schroder wants.
As it was a clear win for both parties, the plan easily won support from the House Appropriations Committee and is in the final steps of passage.
“This resolves the dispute we have,” Edwards’ chief lawyer Matthew Block told the committee. Schroder agreed, saying: “This is a good thing for Louisiana.”
For decades, Governors and lawmakers have used some of this money to pay for some of the state's expenses. But, Schroder stopped the fund transfers, saying he doesn’t believe Louisiana law allows for money owed to individuals to pay for programs and services of the State. He believes that money belongs with its rightful owners, the individuals, and vowed to stop the previous Treasurer's doings.
Under the deal reached this week in the Senate, it was agreed to create a trust fund to collect the unclaimed property dollars and, most importantly, to keep lawmakers from spending it on government expenses. This would then require approval from voters in the November 3rd election. Lawmakers say they are most excited to end the years-long arguments and disagreements.
“I’m just excited that you all have come to some resolution,” said Rep. C. Denise Marcelle
What Is Unclaimed Property?
Louisiana collects unclaimed dollars from old savings accounts, payroll checks, stocks and dividends, insurance proceeds, and utility deposits on behalf of residents, businesses, etc. When the company cannot locate the owner, the money or properties are submitted to the state. Some common examples include unpaid life insurance benefits, forgotten bank accounts, and unused rebate cards. The Treasurer’s office then tries to locate people who are owed the cash and return the money. Nearly 33 million people in the United States have unclaimed property.
Read more about the agreement reached and about Unclaimed Property here.