Unclaimed funds to help fill Mich. budget

Sept. 27, 2010 at 4:34 PM
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LANSING, Mich., Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Michigan is looking to use about $208 million in unclaimed checks and other valuables to help balance the state budget, officials say.

Michigan is facing a $484 million shortfall and Gov. Jennifer Granholm and legislative leaders have agreed to shorten the period businesses have to turn over unclaimed property from 15 years down to three, The Detroit News reported Monday.

The unclaimed property, which includes bank accounts, payroll checks and safety deposit boxes that have been misplaced or forgotten by their owners, eventually goes to the state's general fund.

John Gabriel, president of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, is against the change for the sake of a one-time budget fix.

"If payroll checks, for example, aren't cashed in a year, then they're probably lost," Gabriel said.

But the measure has passed both houses of the state Legislature and only needs Granholm's signature.

Gabriel said New York and New Jersey enacted similar legislation this year.

Workers in the state's Unclaimed Property Division track more than 10 million unclaimed accounts valued at more than $1.3 billion. Some of the money makes its way into the general fund when it becomes apparent no one will be coming forward to claim their cash.

State officials say the legislative change will generate a one-time windfall of about $400 million -- about half of which will go to the general fund to help solve the budget shortfall.

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