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

Archive for March, 2012

Nearly $40 Million Turned Over to State Treasury


Starting Sunday April 1st and lasting until June 23rd, Wisconsin residents in every county can look for their names in their paper of record to see if the State Treasurer’s office is holding unclaimed property.

What the Listings will look like in the papers

Milwaukee County will be first this year and has the most new names of people with unclaimed property than any other county in the state. Residents there can look in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for their names, their relatives’ names or their neighbors this Sunday.

These are the new names we received at the end of last year from companies across the state and country. We print the new names every year, as required by state law, to make it easier for people to find cash they didn’t even know was lost.

Companies turned over $39,160,521 to the State Treasury in 2011. This money belongs to all the people who will have their names printed in the papers over the next 3 months. However, the Office of State Treasurer has been holding unclaimed property since the early 1970’s. We have $412,226,584 that we want to give back to the rightful owners.

Last year, my office returned more than $33 million. But even though we broke the record, we then took in another $39 million. There is a lot of unclaimed money out there!

Anyone can search for missing money on our website www.wismissingmoney.com24 hours a day, seven days a week. Online, you will find the new names that will be printed in the papers this year as well as all the old names dating back to the start of the unclaimed property statutes.

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FAQ: Is there a plan to set up an EdVest account?


Professor helping students at Smith College

Yes, EdVest offers a very useful and handy checklist to get you on track and on your way to saving money for your children’s, or other beneficiaries future.

You can start by using the online application to establish an individual or custodial (UGMA/UTMA) account.

Checklist:

– Both you and your beneficiary must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien with a U.S. taxpayer identification number to establish the account.

– Both you and your beneficiary must be a U.S. citizen with a U.S. mailing address to establish the account.

– Prior to opening an account Federal law requires you to list your name, street address, date of birth, and taxpayer identification number.

Also, EdVest does not accept credit card checks and does not accept third-party checks when opening a new account.

 

Please have the following available before you begin to set up your EdVest account:

– Social Security number (SSN) or Taxpayer Identification number (TIN)

– Address and SSN/TIN of your Successor Account Owner (if you choose to name one)

– Address, SSN, date of birth, and anticipated year of college enrollment of your Beneficiary

– A blank check for your reference (if funding online).


The Economy & You 26: Economic Methods


In the study of economics, there are two approaches that are used to ask and answer questions posed to economists. The first approach tries to understand the behavior and operation of economic systems without making judgments or expressing opinions about whether the outcomes are good or bad.  This is considered positive economics.  The second approach analyzes the outcomes of economic behavior, provides an opinion whether they are good or bad, and provides possible courses of action.  This is considered normative economics

Normative economics or policy economics deal with questions like: should the government subsidize certain types of manufacturing over others; should Medicare and Medicaid be means tested; and should the U.S. place tariffs on Chinese imports to address the reluctance of China allowing their currency to float?

To be certain, many normative economic questions involve positive economic questions.  To know whether a specific economic decision or policy is a good one, we first must determine if such a policy can be implemented and what the likely consequences will be before an evaluation can take place.

Some will argue that positive economic analysis is nearly impossible.  Economists and analysts all enter into the process with biases that will influence their work.  It can even be said that the questions they choose to analyze and answer themselves are shaped by ideological views (whether political or moral). Regardless, it is important to note that economists who attempt to answer positive economic questions are attempting to provide research and analysis that is devoid of bias to the best of their ability.

Positive economics can be divided into two main areas: descriptive economics and economic theory.  Descriptive economics is the compilation of data that describe facts ad events.  One example of such data is the Statistical Abstract of the United States which is published by the Department of Commerce every year and helps to describe many features of the national economy.  These data and much more can be found on the internet and more specifically at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov).

Economic theory attempts to analyze the data, interpret it, and provide generalizations about the data.  Economic theory is a set of statements regarding the cause, effect, action or reaction of an economic system.  One of the most basic economic theories is the law of demand.  When the price of a good or service rises, people tend to buy less of it.  When the price of a good or service falls, people tend to buy more of it.  Economic theory arises from both statistical data and observation of human behavior.  As with any science, whether social or physical, scholars construct a model to state a theory.  The theory is then tested to determine its strength or validity.

It is these basic methods that economists and economics students employ to describe, understand, analyze, and evaluate our economy and those around the world.  Economic methods are important to understand because when statements are made by economists and government leaders, we as citizens must be able to distinguish whether a statement being made is a positive economic statement or a normative economic statement.  Saying that Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has fallen is a positive statement. Saying that the Governor’s economic policies have led to the decline of the unemployment rate is a normative statement.  It is important for people to know what a statement of fact is (positive) and what a statement of opinion is (normative). In addition, you will need to understand common assumptions and pitfalls that are made when describing economic theories and models.  This will be a topic for a future article.


Treasurer’s Top 5: Burnett County


We find ourselves in Burnett County this week to present the top 5 people who have money/assets that belong to them but they don’t know it! Have you searched for your missing cash? 

Visit Downtown Grantsburg Sign

Visit Downtown Grantsburg Sign (Photo credit: J. Stephen Conn)

Burnett County

John Chamberlain – Webster

Edwin Beck – Danbury

Peter Castronovo – Grantsburg

Angeline Ryba – Webb Lake

Gustave Brynilson – Webb Lake

 If you or someone you know is on this list, please let them know they need to make a claim with the office. They can also call us at 855-375-CASH


State Workers Giving Back


For nearly 40 years, State, University and University Hospital and Clinics employees in Dane County have taken part in a charity campaign that has raised nearly $59 million since 1973.

Photo © taken by and copyright by Jeff Dean

Photo © taken by and copyright by Jeff Dean (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This year, the Partners in Giving Campaign raised $2,463,523 for more than 500 charities. Employees at the State Treasurer’s Office have taken part in the campaign for many years and we have won several awards for the amount of money we have given as well as for level of participation for such a small office…remember, we only have 10 employees and compete against agencies that are well beyond 500!

To learn more about the campaign, click here! And GREAT JOB to everyone who took part, now helping many organizations in the community who offer services to friends and neighbors.


FAQ: How can money from an EdVest account be used?


The money in any EdVest account can be used at thousands of eligible schools in the U.S. (and even some abroad) – including graduate school.

More specifically your college student whose EdVest account you’ve helped to grow can use their money for a variety of educational expenses as listed below:

– Tuition

– Fees

– Books

– Room and Board expenses


The Economy & You #25: Site Selection & Technology


As the topic of job creation and economic development continues to dominate the political landscape, I want to provide some basic information relating to technology and its impact on how a company decides where to locate a facility, regardless whether it is a manufacturing plant, a distribution center, or a corporate headquarters.

Larry Gigerich authored an article that appeared in Area Development Online that touched on the impact that technology has had in the economic development industry.  In the article Gigerich explains how the computer and the internet have assisted economic developers in collecting the necessary information needed for companies to make informed decision on where to locate a facility.  The internet allows site selectors to collect a vast amount of information about regions, communities and companies from a variety of sources.  In the past, this information was filed away on paper and became outdated unless the site selection company continuously updated the information. And while the quality and quantity of information from the worldwide web still needs to be analyzed and cultivated, no economic developer would ever want to go back to the days of paper.  The amount of time saved talking on the phone and waiting for the mail has been crucial in economic developers providing up to the minute data to their clients. This ability to collect the most current information is important because having high quality information is crucial in preventing unexpected surprises.  Unexpected surprises are something that economic developers constantly try to avoid for they can derail a project they have spent months on trying to close. 

Another thing that technology has done is that it has accelerated the project timeline.  In the past, typical project took 12 months to complete and larger more complicated projects could take 18-24 months.  In the current market atmosphere, time is money.  Now, normal projects take 6 months and larger projects take 12 months.  The need to get to market is important whether it means getting a new product to market, entering a new geographic region, or serving existing customers.  Businesses understand that to take advantage of an opportunity means that they must act quickly.  Because the internet has provided economic developers with the ability to collect and analyze data more quickly, the expectation of businesses is that they will receive the information they need more quickly and can in turn act upon that information more quickly.

While technology has provided economic developers with tools to make their jobs easier, the basic steps of site selection remain the same: meeting with the client to gain background information; identifying site requirements; conducting a formal site search that includes collecting and analyzing site information; assessment and evaluation of proposed sites against requirements; developing a list of sites and recommendations for client; continue the site elimination process if necessary; assist in negotiations with potential sites if requested; and finally selecting the site.

Technology has accelerated the ability to collect, analyze, and communicate the necessary information to complete this process.  The challenge communities in Wisconsin have as potential sites is that they must continue to keep their information updated and work to build strong relationships with site selectors to increase their chances of being considered as a potential site.