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 Press Releases

9/22/2017
Treasurer Ron Henson Announces $477 Million

BATON ROUGE, LA - The State Bond Commission approved $477 million for projects statewide and more than $102.5 million in total savings at its September meeting, according to State Treasurer Ron Henson.

 "The commission approved funding for a number of important infrastructure improvements including enhancements to the port in Terrebonne Parish and upgrades to university housing in Lafayette," said Treasurer Henson. "We also helped local governments refinance debt to save taxpayers millions of dollars in interest costs."

Among the individual projects approved were:

 

Allen Parish: $5.7 million in Revenue Bonds for the Allen Parish Law Enforcement District for acquiring, constructing and improving the current jail facility.

 

Calcasieu Parish: $30 million in Multifamily Housing Revenue Bonds for the Calcasieu Parish Public Trust Authority (Le Jolliet Development Project) for the acquisition, construction and equipping of a residential rental facility containing 264 living units.

 

Lafayette Parish: $320,000 in Revenue Bonds for the City of Youngsville to purchase land for use by the city and $330,000 in Refunding Bonds, resulting in $9,705 in savings. 

 

Louisiana Community Development Authority: $15 million in Revenue Bonds for the Louisiana Community Development Authority (Terrebonne Port Commission Project) for the acquisition, construction, improvement, renovation and equipment of the Terrebonne Port Commission.

 

Louisiana Community Development Authority: $10.8 million in Revenue Refunding Bonds for the Nicholls State University Housing/NSU Facilities Corporation Project to refinance debt, saving $491,631.

 

Louisiana Community Development Authority: $105 million in Revenue Bonds for the Ragin Cajuns Facilities, Inc. - Student Housing and Parking Project for the development, design, construction, demolition and equipping of student housing, parking and ancillary facilities.

 

Louisiana Community Development Authority: $250 million in Revenue Refunding Bonds for the Westlake Chemical Corporation Projects to refinance Series 2007 GO Zone bonds, saving $101,375,000.

 

Ouachita Parish: $5 million in Multifamily Housing Revenue Bonds for the Louisiana Housing Corporation (Robinson Place II Project) for the acquisition, construction and equipping of a 50-unit multifamily housing development in Monroe.

 

Richland Parish: $69,000 Revenue Note for the Mangham Fire Protection District No. 4 for the construction, improvement and expansion of a fire station.

 

St. James Parish: $850,000 in Limited Tax Bonds for the St. James Parish Council for pre-construction design and engineering costs in connection with the widening of Highway 20 and other road improvements and repairs.

 

St. John the Baptist Parish: $4 million in Taxable Limited Tax Revenue Bonds (QZAB) for the St. John the Baptist Parish School Board to rehabilitate, repair and equip public school facilities.

 

St. Martin Parish: $13 million in General Obligation School Refunding Bonds for the St. Martin Parish School Board, School District, resulting in $535,294 in savings.

 

St. Tammany Parish: $2.5 million in Taxable Sewer Revenue Bonds for the Sewage District No. 1 (DEQ Project) for constructing, acquiring, extending and improving the sewer system.

 

Tangipahoa Parish: $10.5 million in Revenue and Refunding Bonds for the Sewerage District No. 1 to acquire, construct, extend and improve the sewerage system and refinance USDA Rural Development Bonds, saving $71,249. 

 

Terrebonne Parish: $10 million in Revenue Bonds for the Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District for hurricane risk reduction projects.

 

Union Parish: $1.04 million in Taxable Water Revenue Bonds for the Waterworks District No. 1 (LDH Program) for constructing and acquiring improvements, renovations and replacements to the drinking water system, including equipment and fixtures.

 

Washington Parish: $7 million in Multifamily Housing Revenue Bonds for the Louisiana Housing Corporation (Pine Trace Homes II Project) for the acquisition, construction, rehabilitation and equipping of a 140-unit multifamily housing facility in Bogalusa.

 

Washington Parish: $6 million in Multifamily Housing Revenue Bonds (Volume Cap) for the Louisiana Housing Corporation (Pine Trace Homes I Project) for the acquisition, construction, rehabilitation and equipping of a 92-unit multifamily housing facility in Bogalusa.

9/18/2017
Treasury to Host Unclaimed Property Event at Prien Lake Mall in Lake Charles

BATON ROUGE, LA – Louisiana has more than $780 million in Unclaimed Property, and Lake Charles area residents can see if any of this money belongs to them at an Unclaimed Property event on Saturday, September 23.

“There are no strings attached with the Unclaimed Property Program, and it’s a free public service,” said State Treasurer Ron Henson.  “It hardly takes any time to stop by to see if the state owes you money. What do you have to lose? The odds of finding Unclaimed Property are much better than winning the lottery.”

Employees from the Treasury’s Unclaimed Property Division will be stationed at the Sears Court entrance at Prien Lake Mall, located at 496 W. Prien Lake Road in Lake Charles, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Treasury employees will help citizens file their Unclaimed Property claims and will notarize large claims for free.

Individuals attending Saturday’s event should bring a valid photo ID and Social Security Card to speed up the processing of their claims.  The Treasury will issue and mail checks for all approved Unclaimed Property claims after Saturday’s event.

The average Unclaimed Property claim is $900 and usually includes old savings and checking accounts, payroll checks, CDs, stocks and dividends, insurance proceeds, oil and gas royalty payments, utility deposits and similar funds. 

Since 1972, the Unclaimed Property Program has returned more than $429 million to more than 475,000 Louisiana citizens.  Louisiana residents who cannot attend the event on Saturday can search for their unclaimed money online at www.latreasury.com or call the Treasury's toll-free hotline at 1-888-925-4127 (Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.).
8/29/2017
Hurricane Harvey Information

Disaster Assistance (FEMA)

www.DisasterAssistance.gov

1-800-621-FEMA

 

National Flood Insurance Program

www.floodsmart.gov

1-888-379-9531

 

Volunteer Information

www.volunteerlouisiana.gov

 

Road Closures

www.511.la.org

 

National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD)

www.nvoad.org/hurricane-harvey/hurricane-harvey-how-to-help/

 

Unclaimed Property Holders Affected By Harvey

 Opinion Columns

8/21/2017
Why Hire a Finder to Locate Unclaimed Property When Treasury Provides This Service for Free?

For years you’ve heard about Louisiana’s Unclaimed Property Program and how the state works to reunite owners with their missing funds. One thing you may not have heard about the program is there are people out there who try to profit from it. These individuals and businesses are called finders, heir finders, or asset locators, and they’ve been around since we began returning unclaimed money more than 40 years ago.

 

Louisiana keeps a massive database of Unclaimed Property records going back all the way to 1972. Finders use information available to the public hoping to get rich on the backs of Unclaimed Property claimants.

 

Here’s how they do it. Finders will contact people who have money being held by our office and tell them that they’ve discovered a missing asset that belongs to them. The finder will offer to help them claim the money, but there is a fee attached for this help. Some finders operate in bulk by contacting a large number of individuals hoping to cash in on multiple claims, even if they’re relatively small dollar amounts. Others hope to strike it big with one or two large claims.

 

Some finders are legitimate and operate within the law; however, it will still cost you. By law, finders legally cannot charge you more than 10 percent of the amount of the Unclaimed Property.

 

Unfortunately, others are no better than scam artists. They may contact you even if you do not have any money, or they may charge you over the legally allowed rate. We’ve heard of instances, for example, when a finder would charge a flat fee of $50, but the Unclaimed Property itself wasn’t even worth that amount. We’ve also heard of scams where the company offers to help a person claim lost assets for a flat fee of $14.95 or $19.95 and all you get is a list of all 50 states’ Unclaimed Property offices.

 

One of the many problems we have with finders is the way they conduct their business. When they contact you, they will not disclose where your money is being held. They often try to get you to sign a contract first, and you may find out later that our office was holding the money all along. If your money has already been turned over to the Treasury’s Unclaimed Property Division, you could have claimed it directly from us at no charge.
7/24/2017
Deferred Comp Great Way for Public Employees to Supplement Retirement Savings

American workers are living and working longer and retiring at later ages. A national survey found that 25 percent of workers in the United States expect to stay on the job after they reach age 70 because of financial pressures. Let’s face it, middle-class workers remain on the job for a longer period of time due to rising health care premiums, increased living expenses, and stagnant retirement savings.

 

Most workers who were surveyed said they rely on the retirement plans offered at their jobs as their primary method for saving for retirement. Many, however, found it difficult to save for retirement even when an employer offered a variety of plans and savings options.

 

State government is one of the largest employers in Louisiana and requires civil service employees to participate in a defined benefit plan through the Louisiana State Employee Retirement System (LASERS).  Local government and other public employees likewise participate in defined benefit retirement systems. 

 

However, retirement benefits for a rank and file career public employee are modest and usually average from 50 percent up to 75 percent of your highest earning years. Without additional savings in the bank and no guaranteed cost of living adjustments, a percentage of your salary simply may not be enough.

 

There is a way to beef up retirement savings that is available to public employees called the Louisiana Government Deferred Compensation (Deferred Comp) Plan. It’s an optional program and is strictly voluntary but can help employees supplement their retirement income by making small but consistent contributions over time. I personally participate in Deferred Comp, and it provides a variety of benefits to public employees.

 

Deferred Comp is a 457 plan under IRS rules, which is another way of saying it provides some terrific tax advantages. There are both state and federal tax benefits for participating in the program, and some participants may qualify for a federal income tax credit (called the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit or Saver’s Credit) depending on their income and how much they contribute to the plan.

 

There are also a variety of investment options available in Deferred Comp. Participants can choose between a Traditional 457 plan or a Roth 457 plan, and earnings for both plans grow tax-free.

 

One of the program’s biggest benefits, in my opinion, is it offers payroll deductions to help make saving for retirement easy and automatic. According to the AARP, payroll deductions are one of the easiest ways for workers to put money away for retirement savings on a regular basis. 

 

A little over a quarter of state employees participate in the Deferred Comp program. I encourage more to take a look to see if the program is right for them. Even though starting early can make a huge difference in the amount of money available for retirement, there are special catch-up provisions available to older workers who are closer to retirement.

 

I recommend taking a good look at your projected retirement savings today to see if it will be enough or if supplemental savings will be needed. The tax and investment advantages of participating in Deferred Comp make it a perfect supplement to LASERS. For more information, visit www.louisianadcp.com.

6/26/2017
LA ABLE Program Can Help Louisiana Families Save for Disability-Related Expenses

In 2014, a federal law amended Section 529 of the IRS code to allow states to offer tax-free savings accounts to individuals who pay disability-related expenses. The federal Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act is considered to be one of the most important pieces of federal legislation benefiting individuals in the disabled community since the Americans with Disabilities Act.

 

Louisiana’s version of the program will be launched this summer and is possible because of state legislation spearheaded by Senator Dan Claitor and Representative Franklin Foil. Louisiana families who are struggling to provide a better life for children with disabilities will now be able to invest money tax free to pay for a variety of qualified disability expenses.

 

Families who care for loved ones with disabilities can set up tax free savings accounts to pay for health care and other expenses. LA ABLE will also help individuals with disabilities save money in order to gain more independence, maintain their health and have a better quality of life.

 

LA ABLE will operate in a similar way to the state’s START program that provides a mechanism for saving for college expenses. The program will allow tax-free deposits to an ABLE account as long as funds are used on qualified expenses such as education, housing, transportation, employment training, and health and wellness. The Office of Student Financial Aid will administer the LA ABLE program, and the State Treasury will oversee program investments.

 

Why is a program like LA ABLE so important to the disabled community? According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, there are an estimated 54 million people in the United States who live with a disability. The CDC reports that health care spending for individuals with disabilities makes up more than a quarter of health care expenses nationwide.

 

Although health care expenses for someone with a disability can average $11,637 a year nationwide, Louisiana’s costs can range from $12,213 to $18,674 depending on the disability and the individual. When taking into account employment, medical and other costs, families caring for a loved one with a disability can spend much more than that.

 

LA ABLE can be critical in helping defray the impact of these costs. Families will be able to save up to $14,000 a year tax free while continuing to receive Medicaid and Social Security benefits. This can be essential for families who want to save money without worrying if dollars will be counted against them when determining eligibility for federal and state benefits programs.

 

Research shows that access to affordable health care and appropriate services improves the quality of life and provides positive outcomes for disabled individuals. With LA ABLE, this will be a reality for many more Louisiana families.

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