Treasurer: Rauner veto will hamper recovery of unclaimed property
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A veto by Gov. Bruce Rauner will undermine the ability to return unclaimed property to Illinoisans, state Treasurer Michael Frerichs said Wednesday.
“This puts big business over people, and violates common sense,” Frerichs said at a news conference in Chicago.
Rauner’s “amendatory veto” rolls back measures passed over another veto last year that expanded Frerich’s ability to pursue unclaimed property. Rauner issued the veto Tuesday.
The state Treasurer is responsible for collecting unclaimed property in Illinois until it is reclaimed by its owner. This includes apparently forgotten life insurance benefits, bank accounts and gift card balances. Illinois currently holds more than $2 billion in unclaimed property.
Rauner’s amendments would set a 10-year window in which the treasurer could pursue unclaimed property, exempt unclaimed property that involves transactions between two businesses, and prevent the treasurer from paying auditors based on the amount of unclaimed property they found looking through a business’s books, among other changes.
“Illinois has more than $2 billion in unclaimed property. It belongs to you, the taxpayers, not the state, and Gov. Rauner is blocking our ability to return it to them,” Frerichs said.
The Illinois Chamber of Commerce hopes Rauner’s veto will prompt the Legislature to reconsider last year’s changes to unclaimed property laws. It worries the changes created an open-ended invitation for costly scrutiny by state-backed auditors, according to Chamber President Todd Maisch.
“Those changes were very significant … not thoroughly vetted, and do have big implications for the business community,” Maisch said.
When the current bill reached Rauner’s desk it barely touched on the issue of unclaimed property recovery. It orignially allowed the treasurer to buy a Springfield office building. Frerichs said consolidating his office’s Springfield operations would save $270,000 a year, quickly paying for the cost of the building.
Frerichs said the amendments in the veto were unconstitutionally sweeping, and he called for the Legislature to override the governor’s veto.
When the Legislature reconvenes in November it can either abandon the bill, pass it with Rauner’s amendments, or override his changes and enact the original bill with a 3/5th majority
“The legislature has ample opportunity to review the language of the amendatory veto and incorporate it into good public policy,” Rauner spokesperson Patty Schuh said.