With Memorial Day having just passed, I hope that everyone had the opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices made by the young men and women who serve in the armed forces. These individuals deserve our support, and I’m happy to say that the State of Wisconsin has taken steps to assist our veterans.
The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs provides veterans with an easy to access list of benefits, as well as detailed eligibility requirements. Among other benefits, veterans in Wisconsin have cheaper access to state parks, lower cost educational opportunities, and access to job retraining grants. In some cases, Wisconsin will partner with the federal government to better serve our veterans. One such example is the Troops to Teachers program, itself a partnership between U.S. Departments of Defense and Education with state branches throughout the country. This program provides stipends (and possibly bonuses) to offset the cost of teacher licensing if the veteran agrees to teach in a low income area.
Wisconsin already has a very good reputation among the states for both the breadth and depth of its veterans affairs services, and state legislators want to maintain and build on that reputation. Two bills currently working their way through the legislature bear particular notice.
SB84, jointly written by Representative Kevin Peterson and Senator Dave Hansen would grant non-remarried surviving spouses of veterans who died of a service related disability eligibility for a property tax credit. The bill is currently in the Senate’s Committee for Economic Development and Veterans and Military Affairs. Its Assembly companion should be introduced soon, and in its current draft form is known as LRB 1537/1 .
AB60, which has been introduced by Representative Karl Van Roy, and is co-sponsored by several members of the Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, aims to fix an inefficiency in government. The bill expands County Blanket Bonds to include County Veterans Service Officers and County Veterans Service Commissions along with other county officials, such as the Sheriff, Treasurer, County Clerk, etc. This means that these individuals and commissions would have the same indemnity as other county officials, and would no longer have to have a separate bond. AB60 has passed the Assembly, and is currently awaiting action in the Senate.
Wisconsin’s College Savings Plan is celebrating 5-29 Day a little early this year – since Saturday is a better zoo day for the family!
Promotions are taking place across the country to celebrate 5-29 Day in an effort to remind parents
to start thinking about and joining a 529 plan which offers tax advantages while saving for your child’s future!
EdVest is again partnering with the Milwaukee County Zoo to offer the first 529 kids age 3-12 a reduced admission price of $5.29. However, this year 5-29 Day will actually take place on Saturday, May 28th, the first day of the long holiday weekend.
In addition, the EdVest Team will have the EdVest Prize Wheel at the Zoo for kids to spin and win a fun prize, as well as information on the program to share with parents.
This annual event is popular, so families are encouraged to come early. If you cannot make it but want to learn more about EdVest, Tomorrow’s Scholar and college savings, please visit www.edvest.com.
Just yesterday, savingforcollege.com ranked Wisconsin’s College Savings Plan as #1 among advisor-sold 529plans. You can read more about that by heading to www.statetreasury.wisconsin.com and clicking on the MEDIA tab.
Great news this afternoon from savingforcollege.com
The Unclaimed Property Tour is underway and I am hitting the road trying to make sure Wisconsin Residents check the database and see if we are holding their forgotten cash.
When we get into some of the smaller towns, it’s nice to meet and talk with people about the State Treasurer’s Office and look to see if they or their relatives have any cash that they forgot about, misplaced or just didn’t know they had coming to them! In Onalaska, I spoke with one woman who, after searching her maiden name, discovered she had $15,000 coming to her!
What other elected official can tell the voters that he’s giving them back their money?
While in Wautoma Monday, I spoke to a man whose name was in the system but he was listed as living in Poynette. He hadn’t lived there but his parents had and his sister did. The unclaimed property was a life insurance demutualization and he didn’t think it was his since he didn’t have that life insurance. As he walked out, I found his sister in there for the same kind of property and same Poynette address. I ran to stop him and he then remembered that his parents once talked about a life insurance policy they had taken out on both him and his sister. Well..the claim forms are now being filed out and if it is them, both he and his sister will be getting a good amount of money!
I’ll be sharing more stories from the road as I travel and see Wisconsin Through the Windshield!
As always…check our website 24/7 to see if you have money we are holding. www.statetreasury.wisconsin.gov
Our monthly EBay Auction will kick off at Noon (central) on May 23rd and last until Memorial Day, Noon (central).
You can get a sneak peak and start pricing out bids by clicking here. You will find an entire list of the 30 lots on that page plus be able to sign up for our email list…you’ll know several days before everyone else when the auction will start and what will be up for bid!
This year, we’ve already broken sales records in just 4 months…you can thank the price of gold for that.
Best part about it: all the money goes right back into the Unclaimed Property accounts of the original owners waiting for them or their heirs to claim it.
Bid often starting Monday!
Since November of 2009, the Office of State Treasurer has been selling the contents of unclaimed safety deposit boxes on EBay every month. Prior to that, the sales were 4 times a year starting in 2007. And before that, the office had live auctions.
With gold and silver prices as high as they are, we are seeing our sales in the monthly auction break new records. Since January of 2011, we have sold nearly $85,000 worth of unclaimed property in the auction – April’s total hit $32,000! It helped that we sold a Cartier Pin appraised at $2,000 and several rings that totaled $1,500 a piece last month. But, for a little perspective, in 2010, our total sales hit $120,000! Most of the sales, though, are collectible coins…plenty of silver Morgans and Peace dollars and, occasionally, gold dollars from the 1800’s.
Each year, all banks across the state send us the contents of safe deposit boxes they consider “abandoned”. These boxes have been at the bank for 5 years with unpaid rent and fees. Once we get the contents, we inventory and place them in the vault for another 3 years after advertising the names of the owners in the county of their last known address. So, when we sell these items, they have been abandoned for 8 years…minimum. To be honest, we are selling items that have been abandoned for nearly 10 years now. That’s how much we have. But, we are selling more items monthly and are catching up.
The money from the EBay sales goes into the Unclaimed Property account, which is now at $405 million, and sits there with all the other unclaimed funds we are holding, waiting to be claimed by the rightful owner. So, while the sales are breaking records, the money will only stay in our possession until it is claimed. Like all unclaimed assets held by the State Treasury, it can never be used for general purpose funding.
The May auction will begin sometime the week of May 23rd and will feature plenty of coins for collectors.
From Friday May 13th thru Sunday May 15th, I was on tour with the Unclaimed Property Database. We met with plenty of people who came to search for cash at 5 libraries, the Baraboo Fair on the Square, and the the Riverside Family Fun Fair in La Crosse. We were able to meet with several hundred people and will return to them nearly $15,000 in cash – money they had at some point forgotten about, misplaced or didn’t even know they had!
You can see some of the media coverage by heading to our YouTube Channel – www.youtube.com/theWIStateTreasury
One of the people we met had overpaid their mortgage…she told us that some months she double paid in order to take care of the loan quicker. But she moved and got a new mortgage and after closing didn’t realize she had sent an extra check. The company sent the money to her old address but, since she had moved, the check went back to the company. They turned it over to us after a small amount of time and now we will give it to her. This was more than $2,000!
We hear this a lot while on tour: “No…I don’t need to check for my name…I don’t have any missing money.” When we finally convince them to give us their name and we do find they have money, they can’t believe it! While no one wants to “misplace” cash and assets, it does happen more frequently than one would think…or hope! This is why we take the database on tour and we always remind people to search for their cash online at www.statetreasury.wi.gov – it’s a free service and, as we love to say, “It’s Your Money!”