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|Ron Henson Sworn In As State Treasurer|
BATON ROUGE, La. - Ron Henson was sworn in Friday as state treasurer. The oath of office, administered by 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Duke Welch, took place in Gov. Huey P. Long's office at the Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge.
Ron Henson is sworn in as state treasurer by 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Duke Welch. In the center is the Rev. Frederick Mack of Beech Grove Baptist Church.
The position of State Treasurer has been a constitutional office since Louisiana's statehood in 1812. Treasurer Henson is the 23rd person to hold the office since the position of state treasurer was decided by an election of the citizens of Louisiana. Prior to 1855, the Treasurer was elected by the General Assembly. Treasurer Henson was preceded by John Neely Kennedy, who resigned upon his election to the U.S. Senate. He will serve until a special election is held later this year.
"I have dedicated my life's work to public service," said Treasurer Henson. "It has been my honor to serve in leadership roles across state government, and it is my honor to carry on the example set by U.S. Sen. John Kennedy. John has mentored me and supported me since we first worked together in Gov. Roemer's transition office. I would not be Treasurer today if it weren't for John Neely Kennedy."
Henson was named first assistant treasurer in 2000. In that role, he oversaw a budget in excess of $10 million and more than 80 employees. He previously was undersecretary of both the Louisiana Department of Economic Development and the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. He was deputy chief of staff to Gov. Buddy Roemer and served 14 years in the newly created Legislative Fiscal Office. A native of Arkansas, Henson holds a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Louisiana Tech University and attended the University of Arkansas.
|State Bond Commission Approves $214 Million for Local Projects |
BATON ROUGE, LA - The State Bond Commission approved $214 million for projects statewide and approved more than $1.3 million in interest savings at its December 15 meeting, according to State Treasurer John Kennedy.
"We approved funding for projects across Louisiana," said Treasurer Kennedy. "Calcasieu Parish will add classrooms. The village of Pleasant Hill will improve its waterworks system. Jefferson Parish will tackle hurricane protection projects. This funding is vital to local communities."
Among the individual projects approved were:
- Acadia and Evangeline parishes, $600,000 in Revenue Refunding Bonds and $725,000 in Revenue Refunding Bonds for the town of Basile: saving taxpayers $110,000.
- Caddo and Bossier parishes: $9 million in Utility Revenue Refunding Bonds for the Caddo-Bossier Parishes Port Commission: saving taxpayers $426,000.
- Calcasieu Parish, $15 million in Excess Revenue Certificates of Indebtedness for the School Board's Classroom Construction Project: for construction of additional classrooms for various multiple school buildings.
- Jefferson Parish, $7.5 million in Limited Tax Certificates of Indebtedness for the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-West, West Jefferson Levee District: for constructing and improving levees and other flood and hurricane protection projects.
- Jefferson Parish, $20 million in Taxable Sewer Revenue Bonds for the Jefferson Parish Council, Consolidated Sewerage District No. 1's DEQ Project: for acquiring, constructing and equipping improvement to the wastewater collection, treatment and disposal system.
- Lafourche Parish, $15 million in Sales Tax Revenue Bonds for the North Lafourche Conservation, Levee and Drainage District: for (1) constructing and improving levee, drainage and flood protection projects, including acquisition of equipment and (2) funding a reserve.
- Multiple parishes, $100 million in Revenue Bonds for the Louisiana Public Facilities Authority's Ochsner Clinic Foundation Project for: (1) acquiring, constructing, equipping, maintaining, installing, and/or upgrading certain improvements to the Ochsner Medical Center, including the parking garage and Gayle and Tom Benson Cancer Center, Ochsner Elmwood Hospital, Ochsner Medical Center Baton Rouge, Ochsner Clinic Covington, (2) acquiring, constructing, equipping, maintaining, installing and/or upgrading health care and related facilities (including without limitation hospital, clinic, outpatient and medical office facilities) in Jefferson East Baton Rouge, Tangipahoa, Ascension, Orleans, Livingston, Iberville, St. James, St. John the Baptist, Plaquemines and/or St. Tammany Parishes and (3) creating or maintaining a debt service reserve fund.
- Orleans Parish, $4.62 million in Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds for the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District: for constructing, acquiring and improving energy facilities as part of an energy retrofit project pursuant to the Energy Savings Performance Contract with Johnson Controls, Inc.
- Orleans Parish, $15 million in Commercial Paper Revenue Notes or Single Family Revenue Refunding Bonds for The Finance Authority of New Orleans' Mortgage-Backed Securities Pass-Through Program: saving $649,000.
- Rapides Parish, $3 million in Revenue Bonds for the England Economic and Industrial Development District's Community Center Project: for constructing a community center.
- Sabine Parish, $220,000 in Certificates of Indebtedness for the village of Pleasant Hill: for constructing and acquiring improvements, extensions and replacements to the waterworks system, including equipment and fixtures.
- St. Bernard Parish, $13 million in Taxable Utilities Revenue Bonds for the St. Bernard Parish Council's LDH Program: for constructing and acquiring additions, extensions and improvements, to the water portion of the combined waterworks plant system and sewer system.
- Tensas Parish, $6.4 million in Revenue Bonds for the Tensas Parish Law Enforcement District: for (1) prepaying an existing lease-purchase agreement, (2) additional renovations and improvements to the Tensas Parish Detention Center, (3) paying additional expenses incurred in connection with the operation of the Detention Center and (4) funding a reserve.
- Washington Parish, $3.5 million in Water Revenue Refunding Bonds for the Varnado Waterworks District: saving taxpayers $104,000.
The Louisiana State Bond Commission meets monthly to review and approve applications from parishes, municipalities, special taxing districts, and other political subdivisions of the State requesting authority to incur debt. For more information, visit www.LATreasury.com.
|State Revenues Hold Steady|
BATON ROUGE, La. - The November 2016 Net Receipts Report shows that total state revenue thus far for 2016-2017 was $3.555 billion, a 27% increase compared to that time last year. Between October and November, total major state revenue grew $697 million.
General sales tax collections grew. Gasoline and special fuels tax collections continued to show stability. Miscellaneous tax collections increased.
The report includes receipts for sales tax, individual income tax, general severance tax, corporation and franchise tax, gasoline and special fuels tax and miscellaneous taxes cash receipts. The report does not include gambling revenues, fees, self-generated revenue and statutory dedications.
General sales tax cash receipts for FY 2016-2017 to-date are $1.586 billion, for an increase of $464 million or 41% compared to last year. General sales tax cash receipts this time last year were $1.122 billion, which was $15 million less than the prior year.
Individual income tax cash receipts for FY 2016-2017 to-date are $1.295 billion, for a decrease of $11 million or -1% compared to last year. Individual income tax cash receipts this time last year were $1.306 billion, which was $74 million more than the prior year.
General severance tax cash receipts for FY 2016-2017 to-date are $159 million, for a decrease of $57 million or -26% compared to last year. General severance tax cash receipts this time last year were $216 million, which was $162 million less than the prior year.
Corporation and franchise tax cash receipts for FY 2016-2017 to-date are $68 million, for an increase of $312 million or -128% compared to last year. Corporation and franchise tax cash receipts this time last year were a negative $-244 million, which was $334 million less than the prior year.
Gasoline and special fuels tax cash receipts for FY 2016-2017 to-date are $271 million, for an increase of $8 million or 3% compared to last year. Gasoline and special fuels tax cash receipts this time last year were $263 million, which was $7 million more than the prior year.
Miscellaneous taxes cash receipts for FY 2016-2017 to-date are $174 million, for an increase of $62 million or 55% compared to last year. Miscellaneous taxes cash receipts this time last year were $112 million, which was $21 million more than the prior year.
To view the report in its entirety, visit www.latreasury.com and click "Net Receipts Statement for the Month of November 2016."
|We Continue To Have A Spending Problem|
If your car breaks down every Monday, eventually you're going to do one of two things. You're going to get a new mechanic or a new car.
Louisiana's state budget is a lot like a car that breaks down on a regular basis. For some time now, every December or January, a huge shortfall emerges that has to be fixed. If you have a kid on TOPS, then you're already suffering the consequences of the state's inability to manage its money. You just wrote a fat check for your kid's tuition because the state came up short. Merry Christmas to you.
So it's no huge surprise the state has yet another deficit - this time $600 million. It's obvious that we need to make changes, starting with eliminating the hypocrisy from the state budgeting process.
The real question is how in the world does the state not have enough money? Taxes are sky high after the largest tax increase in Louisiana's history. The state's not really paying for TOPS scholarships; parents are. And, in November, state revenue was up 27% over last year.
A couple of things are going on.
First, the state isn't hitting the mark on how much money we can expect to receive each year. Since the state budget is built on those projections, it's costly when we get it wrong.
Basically, we're being too optimistic about how much money the state is going to bring in. We're being too optimistic year after year after year. You'd think we'd get the idea eventually that we're not going to find an oil field underneath the State Capitol every other week - or wherever it is we think we're going to get all this money.
Second, the state spends money like crazy. New cars are purchased. Pay raises are given - not to the worker bees, mind you, but to the top brass. More people are added to Medicaid.
The truth is that the state is simply not living within its means. It is spending more than it takes in and letting our taxpayers handle the consequences.
As state treasurer, I like to look at numbers. Numbers don't lie. So I pulled the budget for the state's Division of Administration. The Division of Administration manages the daily operations of state government, operates as the state's accountant and works directly for the Governor.
The Division's budget was $147 million in 2005. It now stands at $395 million. That's a $248 million, or 169% increase, over 12 years. That's a 14% increase per year on average. Has your income gone up 14% a year each year for the last 12 years? (In case you are wondering, the Department of the Treasury's budget increased only 2.6% annually over the same period of time).
No one's really reducing their spending at the State Capitol except for a dip or two from time to time. Meanwhile, the Pew Research Center tells us that real wages (income with inflation factored in) have largely been flat for 20 years.
Instead, the state's relying on foolish tricks and gimmicks to limp along. The state cuts higher education to the bone but allows health care costs to balloon. The Legislature gives lip service to reducing consulting contracts but refuses to pass a bill that would allow the Legislature to reject them. More often than not, the top brass get pay raises while forcing our rank-and-file state workers to get by with the same paycheck every year.
The Division of Administration, which handles the budget for the Governor, can't even cut its own budget.
We can do better. We must do better. Our taxpayers deserve it. We can't keep driving a car that breaks down every Monday.
|Don't Forget To Search For Unclaimed Property|
As hard as it is to believe, another Christmas is upon us. It's a joyous time, but it's also expensive - especially if you have kids. I'm not sure what a Hatchimal is; I do know it will set Santa back quite a few dollars if your kid wants one under the tree this year.
The holidays cause us to empty our wallets and run up our credit card bills. If you're trying to figure out how to pay the bill collector, run your name through our Unclaimed Property search engine. You have better odds of finding money there than you do of winning the lottery.
Since I became State Treasurer 16 years ago, we've returned $315 million in Unclaimed Property to Louisiana citizens and businesses. We've collected $860 million in Unclaimed Property during that same timeframe.
Unclaimed Property isn't land. It's money. When businesses can't find you, they send the money to us. We hold onto it until you claim it. We get life insurance proceeds, utility deposits, old bank accounts, stocks, dividends, savings bonds and more. The only thing we don't get is your great aunt's jewelry.
I've returned money to celebrities like Archie Manning and John Goodman. I've also returned money to ordinary citizens who really needed the cash. It's the stories of the ordinary citizens that will stay with me.
Years ago, we got in a life insurance policy for a young widow in north Louisiana. Her husband had died, leaving her with small children to rear. She didn't know he'd also left her $500,000 in life insurance proceeds until we tracked her down.
Earlier this year, we returned more than $2 million in Unclaimed Property to a 96-year-old woman in the New Orleans area. That money will be used to ensure that she has around-the-clock care for the rest of her life.
Now I don't have $2 million or even $500,000 for everyone in Louisiana. The average refund is about $900.
Just last week, I sent a check for $12,500 to the Jefferson SPCA. This organization, which supports the Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter's two locations, lost track of stocks and dividends following Hurricane Katrina. The money we returned to the SPCA will be used to treat animals for heartworms and other medical issues. The treatment is expensive, and this will give the animals a better chance of being adopted. As an animal lover, I couldn't be more thrilled at that outcome.
Unclaimed Property is a terrific program, and there are no strings attached. It's absolutely free to claim this money. All we care about is whether the money belongs to you.
Visit our website at www.latreasury.com or give us a call at 1-888-925-4127. You might just find enough money to buy a Hatchimal.
|Do You Have Unclaimed Property? It's Very Likely|
In her 96 years, Metairie native "Marjorie Summers" (not her real name) has lived through the Great Depression, World War II, the Kennedy assassination, Watergate and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Cars had a running board and a rumble seat back when Marjorie was born. Now we're test driving cars that literally drive themselves.
A lot has changed in nearly a century. It's not surprising that Marjorie would lose track of a few things along the years. In fact, I just returned more than $2 million in Unclaimed Property to her.
Marjorie's experience is both common and uncommon - and let me explain what I mean by that.
Roughly one in six individuals has Unclaimed Property in the Louisiana Treasury. That means it's very likely that you or your mom, aunt, cousin, sister, brother or childhood best friend has lost money that has been turned over to the state. It's probably just not $2 million.
The average refund is $900. That's not enough to buy a place in Hawaii, but it will certainly buy lots of groceries.
Every day, we get in payroll checks, tax refunds, life insurance proceeds, utility deposits and much more. We put it in the Treasury, and we hold onto it until it's claimed.
Insurance salesman used to go door to door peddling their policies. Your grandmother might have purchased one and forgotten to tell you. The proceeds could be in the Treasury.
A computer hiccup could corrupt your address on a mailing label. If the postman can't deliver a check to you, it comes to us.
We received unredeemed savings bonds last year totaling nearly $500,000. Some of them date to the 1940s and 1950s. The folks who bought them might not be alive still, but their heirs are.
Other times, money finds its way to us because of forgetfulness. That's what happened with Marjorie.
The Great Depression of the 1930s impressed upon Marjorie the importance of saving money. Her father lost his job, causing his family to struggle financially. All these years later, Marjorie remembers her mother fretting and worrying about the tough economic times.
Marjorie was a good steward of her finances; she just struggled with the bookkeeping as she aged. She started dumping her mail, still unopened, into boxes. When you don't open your mail, you tend to accumulate Unclaimed Property.
Fortunately, concerned friends enlisted the help of a personal trustee who sorted through Marjorie's 18 boxes of unopened mail and searched the Unclaimed Property database. The trustee found more than $500,000 in cash and $1.6 million in stock assets.
Marjorie's Unclaimed Property was one of the largest in our department's history. I was happy to return it to her.
It's absolutely free to search for Unclaimed Property. It's even free to claim it. Visit www.LATreasury.com to find our search engine. You can also give us a call at 1-888-925-4127. You never know what you might discover.