Jackson, MS. Treasurer Lynn Fitch yesterday transferred
$580,024.87 to the State General Fund, the proceeds of a court-established fund
in a case known as Tennille v. Western
“Over the course of the past year, we worked with attorneys
in this case to return as much money as possible to our State’s unclaimed
property,” said Fitch. “For those funds, we will search out the
rightful owners and return their money to them, as we have with over $95
million in unclaimed property since I took office. These remaining funds, however, were
specifically set aside by the court for the State and I am pleased to transfer
them to our General Fund.”
As the Treasurer
explained in her letter to the Legislature accompanying this transfer, the Tennille case was brought by individuals
against Western Union, alleging that certain incomplete transactions were not
returned to the rightful owners.
Mississippi was not a party to the case.
However, in the settlement agreement, the federal court approved what is
known as a cy pres fund, from which
monies were proportionally directed to the states and specifically deemed not
subject to unclaimed property escheatment laws.
“By returning the
money to the General Fund, without further direction by the Legislature, it
will be split between the State’s Rainy Day Fund and Capital Expense Fund,
pursuant to our State budget laws,” continued
Fitch, “So, I am pleased that our work in this case will both promote
fiscally conservative budgeting and support important infrastructure projects
across Mississippi. I have also asked
the Legislature to consider doing as several other states have done with their cy pres funding and direct a portion to
financial education, as well, since financial literacy issues were at the heart
property and improving financial literacy have been two of Treasurer Fitch’s
highest priorities as Treasurer. During
her tenure, aggressive outreach for unclaimed property has resulted in
distribution during her 7 years in office of more than half of all the
unclaimed property distributed since the program began in 1982.
In addition, the
public-private partnership she created to bring financial education to
Mississippi high schools free of charge, TEAM (Treasurer’s Education About
Money), has helped 95,000 students take 400,000 learning hours of personal
finance and trained over 1,400 teachers across the State. Next school year, she is proud that
Mississippi will become the 18th state in the nation to require all
students take personal finance in high school.
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