The happenings "inside" the Wisconsin State Treasury and across the street at the State Capitol

Archive for July, 2011

Outagamie County Fair

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The Outagamie County Fair has certainly been eventful! So far, I’ve helped people locate around $7,500, and have had the opportunity meet many new friends in Northeast Wisconsin.

The fair takes place in Seymour, WI, a town with a lot of history. In 1885, Charlie Nagreen invented the modern hamburger at the Outagamie County fair in Seymour by putting a hamburger steak between 2 slices of bread, allowing fairgoers to eat while walking the fairgrounds. Each year Seymour celebrates this momentous event by holding “Burgerfest”. This year (the 23rd year of the festival), Hamburgerfest will be held on August 6th, and will feature a ketchup slide, a parade, a car show, and of course, a hamburger eating contest.

Eating fair food, including hamburgers, has been only one of this week’s enjoyable activities. I’ve also had the opportunity to visit with State Representative Gary Tauchen, Green Bay Packer Hall of Famer David Robinson, and many of the 4-H kids who worked so hard raising animals and making crafts to show at the fair.

If you get a chance, please visit my staff and I in the commercial building at the Outagamie County Fair. We will be here until tomorrow evening at 7 P.M. With over 1 million unclaimed property accounts, it’s likely that you or someone you know will have money owed to them. Stop by and claim it!


The Economy & You #6 – Who Owns the U.S. Debt?

In my previous article and talked about the difference between the deficit and the debt and how our nation’s debt is the accumulation of all yearly deficits (and surpluses) we accrue. 

 According to the Office of Debt Management, theUnited Stateshad $14.27 trillion of debt in March 2011.  This debt is broken down into two parts.  Debt held by the federal government or in government trust funds, like Social Security.  These are considered intergovernmental holdings.  The remaining debt is labeled as privately held federal debt.  Privately held debt includes foreign and domestic ownership of federal debt securities (Treasury notes, bonds, etc.).

 We know that our nation’s debt is approximately $14.3 trillion, but who do we owe that money to?  If you listen to recent news stories you would think thatChinaowns most of it.  This is not the case.  Over 41% of our nation’s debt is held by our own government while 58% is held privately. Of the privately held debt which totals over $8.3 trillion, over $4.4 trillion (53.84%) is held by foreigners.  As a total less than one-third of our nation’s debt is held by foreigners.  In other words, we owe the debt to ourselves. 

 The following link illustrates how the U.S.debt is primarily owed to ourselves. In fact the government held the majority of our nation’s debt until 2008. 

So when people start saying thatChinamost of our national debt, you can tell them the real story.  For more information about our national debt, visit the Bureau of Public Debt, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.  The website address is

The Economy and You #5: The Debt vs. the Deficit-What’s the Difference?

As the political gamesmanship continues in our nation’s capitol, I thought it might be helpful to explain the difference between our national debt and the deficit.

The deficit is the difference between what the federal government takes in (receipts) and what it spends (outlays).  Seems pretty simple, if you spend more than what you get, you have a deficit.

Government receipts include the various taxes and fees that the government collects as well as other income.  Government outlays include all federal spending which consists of social security, Medicare, defense spending and all other spending by the various federal agencies whether it be the EPA, Department of Education, or NASA.  Federal spending also includes interest payments on our federal debt.

When the government runs a deficit, it must borrow to finance that deficit.  To borrow, the federal government sells government securities to the public and government trust funds (also called intergovernmental holdings) through the U.S. Treasury Department.  The Treasury sells securities like Treasury bills (T-bills), Treasury notes, Treasury bonds, Treasury Inflation Protected securities (TIPS) and savings bonds.  These securities promise to pay a certain amount with interest at a future date in return for money to pay its current expenditures.  This borrowing increases the federal debt which can be thought of as the total accumulation of deficits minus any surpluses over time.  It is important to distinguish between the deficit and the debt.  If theU.S.were to have no deficit this year (which is not the case), we would still have a national debt.

Over time, our national debt has continued to rise as the annual federal deficit continues year after year.  We, as a country, continue to spend more than we take in.  We have all seen stories about the National Debt Clock. Our current national debt is approximately $14.3 Trillion!!

Our national debt continues to rise because our government continues to approve budgets with deficits.  Here is an interesting graphic that illustrates a $1.27 trillion deficit for the proposed 2011 budget.

In my next article I will outline who owns our national debt because it is important to know who we owe money to.

$1.5 Million for Beloit from the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands

I will present a check to the City of Beloit for $1.5 million that will be used by the City for capital improvements and equipment. The money comes from the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands State Trust Fund Loan Program.

I, along with Secretary of State Doug LaFollette and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen make up the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands.

The BCPL State Trust Fund Loan Program is one of the best programs we have in State Government. By helping local communities with these loans, the state is investing in itself.”

 Check Presentation

Monday, August 1, 2011

10:00 AM


500 Public Avenue

Created in 1848 by Article X, Section 2 of the Wisconsin Constitution, the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands was established to accept federal land grants and to manage trust funds for the benefit of public education inWisconsin. BCPL invests the principal of the Common School Fund in loans to municipalities and school districts through the BCPL State Trust Fund Loan Program. These funds are used for public purpose projects including school repairs and improvements, economic development, capital equipment and vehicles, local infrastructure, and refinancing existing debt to reduce future borrowing costs.

In addition, over 95% of the earnings from the Common School Fund are distributed to K-12 school libraries annually. School districts may use the funds to purchase books, audiovisual materials, computer equipment and software, and newspapers and periodicals for their library. A total of $33.6 million has been distributed to public school libraries in 2011.

Get Your Money Faster from the State Treasury!

We’ve made claiming YOUR money from the State a lot easier recently. You can now bypass several steps in the claims process when it comes to unclaimed property if the amount of your claim is below a certain cash value. It involves inputting personal information into our system via our secure website.

If you go to and click on the “Begin Your Search Here” icon (or just click that link now to be taken there), you will be taken to the Unclaimed Property Database that holds more than 1.2 million properties worth more than $395 million to search. If you find your name and click to make a claim, if the amount you are claiming is under $750, you can input your information, including your Social Security number, into the system and your claim is “fast tracked”. That means if the Social Security number, address or birth-date matches the one we have here on file for you, you get your money much faster than if you print up the paperwork and send it in. The time difference could be 6 weeks or more!

Scanned image of author's US Social Security card.

Image via Wikipedia

We are well aware of concerns with using Social Security Numbers online. Our system is very secure and we will need your SS Number no matter what to process the claim. Many of the assets turned over to the office are given to us with SS Numbers attached. This is how we determine if you are the person who is supposed to be getting the money in the first place! We may already have your SS Number…we just need to confirm it’s you!

Make sure to check the database once a year even if you have lived in the same place for 5, 10, 15 or even 20 years! We get assets from holders all the time with your current address on them from companies you still do business with!

Claim Your Cash at the Fair!

State Treasurer Kurt Schuller and staff from the State Treasurer’s Office will bring the Unclaimed Property Database to the Outagamie County Fair in Seymour Tuesday July 25th thru Sunday July 31st.


Last week, Treasurer Schuller met with more than 1,100 people at the Northern Wisconsin State Fair and is in the process of returning more than $2,000 to those who found their names in the system. Many of the people he met had no clue the State ofWisconsin was holding their money or money that belonged to a deceased loved one. By filing out claim forms with Treasurer Schuller or Treasury staff, the process is easier and faster!


After the Outagamie County Fair, the Treasurer and the Unclaimed Property Database will be heading to West Allis to continue the nearly 20 year tradition of helping people claim money at the State Fair! You can find our booth in the Expo Center, in the same spot…across from the Wisconsin State Lottery! We will be there August 4th thru the 14th ready to help the thousands of people who want to see if they are missing their own cash!



State Treasurer Schuller/Unclaimed Property Fair Schedule


Outagamie County Fair

637 North Main St

Seymour, WI

July 25th-July 31st


Wisconsin State Fair

640 South 84th Street

West Allis, WI

August 4th-August 14th

July eBay Auction About to Begin!

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31 Lots of coins, jewerly and some interesting items from safe deposit boxes will go up for auction on eBay starting at 12pm Sunday July 24th.

Of interest will be the 8 lots of gold coins – 1 Krugerand, 7 $50 American Eagles. With the price of gold these days and the interest in these kinds of coins, we are sure prices will be high for the items. Remember, all money made on this auction is returned to the unclaimed property fund waiting for the rightful owner or the owner’s heirs to claim it.

I get asked all the time, how can someone forget they have a safe deposit box with valuables inside. Most of the time, the people who own the box pass away and since the rent is no longer paid, the bank deems it abandoned and sends the contents to us (after 5 years).  A lot of people never tell family members or loved ones about a safe deposit box. When they pass, all of the stuff inside comes to our office and we can only hold onto it for a certain amount of time. We don’t have a large vault to hold all the boxes we get from every single bank in the state of Wisconsin every year.

This is an important conversation to have with an elderly loved one; not only about safe deposit boxes but about other assets that could be “lost” after death and then get transferred to our office. Most, if not all, of the assets we receive could actually be taken care of prior to becoming unclaimed property if families would talk about finances prior to a family members death.

A note of interest in this month’s auction: Lot 21J – an old Minolta film camera and a Motorola “Digital Personal Communicator AKA cell phone. We got a kick out of the old cell phone and how big it is compared to what we use today.