ELIZABETHTON — Schools spend a lot of time teaching students the things they need to do to get a good-paying job. On Friday morning, a course at East Side Elementary was showcased that taught students how to budget the money they earn.
Fifth-grade students were working with an online lesson of the “Vault — Understanding Money” course. The lesson was considered important enough for Tennessee Treasurer David Lillard Jr. and Tennessee Financial Literacy Commission Director Bill Parker to come from Nashville to observe the class.
Lillard said he is proud of the good financial credit of the state government. He said its triple A rating is a result of the state’s good financial management, which is ranked best among the 50 states. The same can not be said about many of the state’s citizens. Lillard said the state ranks first in the nation in the number of Chapter 13 bankruptcies, the type of bankruptcy designed for wage earners.
Lillard made Friday’s trip to East Side and has made about 15 to 20 other trips to elementary school classes this year because he sees a real need to change the Tennessee culture on personal economy. He is dedicated to improving the level of financial literacy in the state.
“Life is about choices,” Lillard said. He told the East Side boys and girls that “you can live well on a small amount of money if you make the right decisions.”
To make his point, each student was given a set of two cards. One one card was printed the word “need” and on the other was printed the word “want”. He then drilled them on what items, such as food or transportation was needs and whether a 2-pound steak or a $100,000 sports car were needs or wants.
State Sen. Rusty Crowe and State Rep. David Hawk also attended the class, and asked the students if Vault was helping them learn about finances. The students answered that the lesson was helping them.
Lillard became state treasurer in January 2009 and soon began working to improve financial literacy. One of the first steps was to get the legislature to pass the Financial Literacy Program Act of 2010. With that accomplished, the Tennessee Financial Literacy Commission was created. The commission’s mission is to “equip Tennesseans to make sound financial decisions when it comes to planning, saving and investing,” the group said.
One of the East Side teachers of the financial literacy class is Christy Malone, who is also vice chairwoman of the Tennessee Financial Literacy Commission. Malone has served on the commission since its start eight years ago and is the only teacher on the board.
Malone said she got on the board when Ed Alexander, who was then the superintendent of the Elizabethton City School System, recommended her.
The commission selected the Vault instruction after reviewing it and competing formats. It is free to classrooms across the state. Lillard said the costs have been paid by two sources, the state legislature and by corporations across the state that support the commission’s efforts. Lillard said Carter County Bank is one of the supporters.
The commission also provides seminars in teaching financial literacy to teachers. One of the seminars was taking place on Friday at Northeast State Community College.
For more information on the free Vault instruction and on improving financial literacy, contact Bill Parker at 615-741-2956.
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WASHINGTON – House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady said Monday night that “there’s very strong bipartisan support for preserving” the tax exemption for municipal bonds and that he expects to have a tax reform bill on President Trump’s desk before the end of the year.
“I don’t want to get ahead of our committee’s work and product that we’ll all see very soon,” Brady, R-Texas, said at the annual meeting of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association here when asked about the specifics of the expected tax reform bill.
Senior administration officials speaking on background told reporters last month that the tax exemption for municipal bonds will be preserved. But none of the so-called Big Six Republican leaders in the House and Senate and top administration officials who are negotiating the framework of the bill have confirmed it on the record.
Brady’s comment, made during a question and answer session at the SIFMA conference in a downtown Washington hotel, is the closest any of them has come to providing a public reassurance.
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WASHINGTON — Demand for municipal bonds is expected to increase and credit spreads get lower in the future because most regional members of the Federal Home Loan Bank system have begun accepting municipal bond issues as collateral.
That was the message Thursday during a webinar sponsored by the National Association of State Treasurers for issuers, investors, municipal advisors, bond attorneys and underwriters.
Mark Pascarella, the webinar moderator and director of debt management for the Indiana Finance Authority, said the takeaway is that higher demand is possible for municipal issuers.
“As an issuer, I have to recognize that there might be some changes I make to an official statement to make the issuance Federal Home Loan Bank eligible,’’ Pascarella said. “There’s some work we’re going to have to do on our end.’’
The payoff, he said, will include an erosion of the liquidity premium.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency has given regulatory approval over the last couple of years for the 10 of the nation’s 11 regionals to include municipal issues as allowable collateral….
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Since the NAST Conferences app was launched at the Annual Conference of 2016, we’ve strived to constantly innovate to bring you the best in conference technology experience. NAST partners with Crowdcompass in this endeavor and beginning September 1NAST event apps can be found in the Crowdcompass Attendee Hub app. This change will allow us to provide the most up-to-date and useful features for all of our events.
You can download the new app on your phone by following this link https://crowd.cc/s/11Oq0 or searching for Crowdcompass Attendee Hub in your app store.
This page will be updated soon with more information on how to get your app ready for the 2017 NAST Annual Conference, stay tuned!
For a full conference schedule and registration link, please visit http://nast.org/2017-annual-conference. Registration closes September 11th.
We look forward to seeing you in Boston
GALENA – Kansas Treasurer Jake LaTurner is launching his tour of Kansas’ 105 counties to promote many of the programs and services administered by the Treasurer’s Office. The tour will be starting in LaTurner’s hometown of Galena in Cherokee County on Monday, June 12. Treasurer LaTurner and his staff will be in Galena at the Galena City Hall in the Community Room from noon to 1:30 p.m.
“My goal as the State Treasurer is to help Kansans plan and prepare for the future,” said LaTurner. “I’m really excited to be launching my 105 county tour in my hometown of Galena. Throughout the tour we will be promoting four very important and rewarding missions at the Treasurer’s Office: Returning unclaimed property to its rightful owners, helping Kansans save for higher education, empowering individuals living with a disability and their loved ones to save for disability related expenses, and increasing the financial knowledge of all Kansans. I look forward to offering the most vital functions of the Treasurer’s Office directly to Kansans in their hometowns.”
The State Treasurer’s Office is currently safeguarding $350 million in unclaimed property and is charged with returning it to its rightful owners and heirs. Unclaimed property includes inactive savings and checking accounts, uncashed checks, stock shares and bonds, dividend checks, insurance proceeds, mineral royalties and utility deposits. Kansans who can’t make it to the event may call the State Treasurer’s Office at 1-800-432-0386 or log onto www.KansasCash.com to search for unclaimed property. There is no cost to search and claim your rightful property.
Along with assisting Kansans in their search for unclaimed property, Treasurer LaTurner and staff will be talking to Kansans about how the Office can help Kansans plan and save for the future. The Treasurer’s Office administers the Learning Quest 529 Education Savings Accounts, which helps Kansans save for the students in their lives. The funds are invested and then can be utilized for higher education expenses.
Treasurer LaTurner and his staff will also be helping people living with a disability save for their future by signing eligible Kansans up for the brand new ABLE accounts. The Kansas ABLE checking accounts help make paying for qualified expenses safe and easy, and they continue to empower individuals with disabilities to gain financial independence and save the money they earn.
For more information on the Kansas State Treasurer’s Office, please visit www.kansasstatetreasurer.com.
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State Treasurers and Public Finance Experts Aim To Improve Financial Literacy Nationwide
MINNEAPOLIS— On the heels of April’s Financial Literacy Month, more than a dozen state treasurers from across the country have arrived in Minneapolis to discuss rising college costs and public financing issues during the National Association of State Treasurers’ (NAST) 2017 Treasury Management Symposium.
The four-day event represents the largest annual gathering of state treasurers and public officials in the country, and will help set the stage for 529 Day on May 29th, a designation intended to raise awareness around the benefits of 529 College Savings Plans.
Oklahoma State Treasurer Ken Miller, President of NAST, said, “I am proud to welcome hundreds of financial experts, elected officials and treasury professionals to Minneapolis, where we will have the unique opportunity to reach across state lines to discuss some of the most pressing economic issues facing our constituencies.
“State treasurers have a critical role to play in safeguarding public funds and promoting overall prosperity. With this year’s symposium falling just after April’s Financial Literacy Month, I specifically look forward to exchanging information regarding programs and policies being implemented to lift the standard of financial literacy and raise awareness around financial tools such as 529 college savings plans.”
Held from May 9-12th at the Minneapolis Marriott City Center, the symposium gives attendees the opportunity to collaborate and determine strategies that improve financial literacy standards, enhance college savings plans and increase public finance programs for infrastructure projects.
“We have a responsibility to help prepare the next generation to make educated, well-informed financial decisions,” continued Oklahoma State Treasurer Miller. “This year’s symposium will give us the opportunity to renew our effort to support financial wellbeing and strengthen the nation’s economy. I look forward to further discussing these issues with my colleagues during the week ahead.”
The multi-track conference includes a variety of sessions that explore ways to improve personal finance, such as “Financial Education, College Savings Accounts and the Wage Gap,” and ways to advance government efficiency, such as “Innovation in Government Payments.” A complete conference agenda can be downloaded here.
TOPEKA – State Sen. Jacob LaTurner will replace Republican Ron Estes as the state treasurer of Kansas.
Gov. Sam Brownback announced the appointment Tuesday morning after Estes sent the governor a letter announcing he would resign on April 25.
“I know Jake to be a fine man, a skilled public servant and a fiercely loyal Kansan,” Brownback said.
LaTurner, a 29-year-old Pittsburg Republican, has served in the Senate since 2013 and was chairman of the Senate’s federal and state affairs committee this year.
The conservative Republican has voted against tax increases and Medicaid expansion this session.
LaTurner lists his occupation on the Kansas Legislature’s website as a small business owner. He said during a press conference Tuesday that he does consulting work that deals with customer service
“The treasurer’s office is an exciting place to be,” LaTurner said.
B.J. Harden, the assistant state treasurer, described the office as “the state’s bank.”
The treasurer’s office also oversees the state’s effort to help people find their unclaimed property money, and administers a college education savings program and other financial services, according to the state’s website.
LaTurner said his intention was to run for a full four-year term in 2018 when the office is on the ballot again.
The governor’s appointment of LaTurner opens a spot in the Kansas Senate as lawmakers prepare to return to Topeka on May 1. The Legislature is facing almost $1 billion in projected budget shortfalls through June of 2019.
By GREG O’DONNELL, INVESTMENT ADVISER | O’Donnell Financial Group
More than $40 billion in unclaimed cash & property waits to be returned. At first glance, that figure seems staggering, unbelievable — and, yet, it is true. To be more exact, the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA), a coalition of state unclaimed property programs, puts the total at $41.7 billion.
How do you find out if some of this money is rightfully yours? First, you can either go to missingmoney.com (a NAUPA website), or the website of your state’s unclaimed property program. A search should let you know the answer. Aside from searching in the state where you currently reside, you can also search for unclaimed assets in states where you previously worked or lived.
In all 50 states, financial institutions and insurers must escheat (i.e., hand over) account assets to the state if the owner has failed to contact the institution or insurer for a year or longer. The onus is then on the state’s unclaimed property department to find the owner, or at least make public that such assets are waiting to be claimed. How long does an original owner or an heir have to claim the forgotten assets? Usually, there is no statute of limitations.
All kinds of assets are held by these state programs — payroll and dividend checks that were never cashed, death benefits from life insurance policies, distributions from trusts and, of course, stock certificates and property that once occupied safe-deposit boxes.
This is just at the state level. More unclaimed money awaits at the federal level; although, no convenient central database exists to find it. (Unclaimed.org, another NAUPA site, is a good place to start.) In March 2016, the Internal Revenue Service announced that this year’s tax deadline is also the deadline for Americans to claim almost $1 billion in federal income tax refunds from the year 2012. (Next April will represent the last chance to claim 2013 refunds.) Beyond what the IRS has, federal coffers contain unredeemed U.S. savings bonds, checking and savings account deposits from failed banks and credit unions, refunds on FHA-insured home loans and unremembered pension money.
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Tax exemptions on municipal bonds are hardly the sexiest political issue surrounding Donald Trump’s transition. But a group of mayors, meeting with the president-elect at Trump Tower on Thursday, were surprised with welcome news when they pressed Trump to keep the exemptions.
“He’s the president-elect, and he said he would keep it,” said Tom Cochran, the CEO and executive director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. “My lobbyist has been up on the Hill, and they said to us everything is on the table. We didn’t know what would happen.”
He added: “As soon as the sun comes up, I will be contacting the authorities in Speaker Ryan’s office and others on the Democratic side that we were encouraged by the president-elect.”
A spokesman for Trump, who convened the mayors in Trump Tower for about 30 minutes, didn’t respond to a request for comment. Trump has vowed to overhaul the country’s tax code when taking office, and mayors have feared the exemption could be in jeopardy. It has been targeted by some Republicans as too pricey, particularly when the bonds are used to build sports arenas and stadiums.
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The more than $5 billion exodus from municipal-bond funds in November is creating bargains in an often overlooked corner of the tax-exempt debt market.
An index of municipal bonds that are pre-refunded — or paid off as they come due with the proceeds of Treasuries that are held in escrow — yields 1.53 percent, the highest since July 2009. To meet redemptions, mutual-fund mangers are selling the bonds, which are rated AAA because they’re secured by the income from the federal-government debt.
The selloff triggered by Donald Trump’s presidential victory drove state and local-government securities to a 3.46 percent loss in November, the worst month since September 2008, when financial markets seized up after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, according to the S&P Municipal Bond Index.
The Republican’s pledge to cut income taxes and boost spending on infrastructure stoked speculation that the Federal Reserve will need to increase interest rates more aggressively to keep inflation from picking up. Tax cuts could also lessen demand for municipal bonds, whose interest payments are exempt from the federal income tax.
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