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W.Va. treasurer opposes raid on unclaimed funds

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Treasurer John Perdue was critical Thursday of a Tomblin administration plan to take $15 million from his office’s Unclaimed Property account to help balance the 2015-16 state budget, saying it could cripple the division’s ability to find and pay the rightful owners of lost assets.

“This is the people’s money. This is not taxpayers’ money,” Perdue told the Senate Finance Committee.

Currently, the fund has a balance of $21.5 million, from a variety of liquidated assets, including the sale of unclaimed stock and mutual funds, and from payments from insurance companies for unclaimed benefits.

Perdue said the issue with lowering the fund’s balance is that it will make it difficult to pay claims to owners of unclaimed property or their survivors within a 90-day period, as required by law.

He said the Tomblin administration “swept” $6 million out of the account last year to balance the current state budget.

“Sooner or later, this little Rainy Day Fund, as I like to call it, won’t be there to be robbed any longer,” Perdue said, adding, “Robbing the people’s money is not the answer to these fiscal problems.”

Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, agreed.

 “It reminds me of Walmart trying to balance its budget on what’s in “lost-and-found…

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