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 Union.
“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 ofTennille.”
Returning unclaimed 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.
Treasurer Lynn Fitch Press Release