Kansas Senate Saves ABLE Act – Amends HB 2216 to Include KS ABLE Act Language

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 24, 2015

TOPEKA, Kan. – Today the Kansas Senate advanced a bill that included ABLE Act language. HB 2216, a financial services bill, was amended on the floor today thanks to efforts of Senator Greg Smith (R – Overland Park) and Senator Molly Baumgardner (R – Louisburg).

“I couldn’t be happier to see the Senate give the Kansas ABLE Act new life especially after the actions of Representative Jim Ward last week in the House Children & Seniors Committee,” said Kansas State Treasurer Ron Estes. “The ABLE Act would give the opportunity for thousands of Kansas families to save for their loved ones with disabilities. I would encourage all lawmakers to put politics aside and pass this bill that allows families to take financial responsibility for themselves.”

The bill is anticipated to have a final vote tomorrow in the Kansas Senate. If it passes, HB 2216 would then be sent back to the Kansas House of Representatives for consideration.

Last week Kansas Treasurer Ron Estes was critical of political antics by Rep. Jim Ward (D – Wichita) to eliminate the ABLE Act language and replace it with another bill – completely unrelated to the Kansas ABLE Act.

“I want to give credit to the hundreds of disability advocates who have contacted their lawmakers and expressed the need for this important legislation,” said Estes.

Ron Estes is the 39th state treasurer for the state of Kansas and is the first state-wide elected official from the city of Wichita in 20 years. He was elected to serve as the Midwest Regional Vice President for the National Association of State Treasurers 2012-2013, and now serves on the College Savings Plans Network Executive Board. Ron has also served as Sedgwick County Treasurer and as the treasurer for the Kansas County Treasurers’ Association. He was born in Topeka and is a fifth-generation Kansan. His family continues to run a farm in Osage County. Ron and his wife, Susan, have three children.

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For more information:
Ashley Murdie
Director of Communications
785.296.3538
ashley@treasurer.ks.gov

Political Antics End ABLE Act Discussion in House Committee, Makes Unlikely for Passage

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 19, 2015

For more information:
Ashley Murdie
Director of Communications
785.296.3538
ashley@treasurer.ks.gov

 
Political Antics End ABLE Act Discussion in House Committee, Makes Unlikely for Passage 
 
TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas State Treasurer Ron Estes announced today that HB 2100, the Kansas Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Savings Program, has been delayed from moving forward in the 2015 legislative session by actions taken by State  Representative Jim Ward (D-Wichita).State Treasurer Ron Estes

Ward, who was sitting in for an absent member during a House Children and Seniors Committee meeting on March 19, moved to strike ABLE language from HB 2100 and replace it with a Medicaid expansion proposal that was unrelated to the ABLE bill. As a result Chairwoman Connie O’Brien ended the committee meeting, which preserved HB 2100 in its current form.

“It’s antics like this that keep good legislation from getting passed,” said Kansas State Treasurer Ron Estes. “Representative Ward’s proposal to replace the essence of the ABLE bill with an entirely separate agenda is frustrating to say the least, and has likely eliminated any possibility of the bill becoming law this year.”

The Kansas State Treasurer’s Office and Representative Erin Davis (R-Olathe) introduced HB 2100 in January with the intent of providing families with disabled children a new way to save for their children’s future.

The ABLE Savings Program would have allowed families to cover their child’s future education, health and wellness costs, housing, transportation and related expenses in a tax-free savings account.

“As a parent of a child who could have benefited from this legislation, I’m extremely disappointed with the actions of Representative Ward,” said Jawanda Mast, parent of Rachel Mast who both testified in support of HB 2100 in February. “I hope my friends and colleagues in the disabled advocacy community join me in reaching out to him and other state representatives who continue to restrict the future of our children.”

Earlier in this legislative session House leadership ‘blessed’ HB 2100, which allows it to be considered in the 2016 legislative session.

“My office has worked hard with the disabled advocacy community to present the Legislature with a clean ABLE bill and we remain committed to legislation that focuses solely on the needs of Kansans living with disabilities,” said Estes.

Ron Estes is the 39th state treasurer for the state of Kansas and is the first state-wide elected official from the city of Wichita in 20 years. He was elected to serve as the Midwest Regional Vice President for the National Association of State Treasurers 2012-2013, and now serves on the College Savings Plans Network Executive Board. Ron has also served as Sedgwick County Treasurer and as the treasurer for the Kansas County Treasurers’ Association. He was born in Topeka and is a fifth-generation Kansan. His family continues to run a farm in Osage County. Ron and his wife, Susan, have three children.

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Treasurer’s Top 10: Nemaha County

This week, we highlight Nemaha County! Here’s a look at the Top 10 people and businesses there with unclaimed assets. Do you know anyone below?

Map of Nemaha County

Map of Nemaha County, Kansas. 1887

If so, have them check out www.kansascash.com  and search their name to make a claim. They can also call 800-432-0386 (toll-free) or 785-296-4165.

1. Elmer Olberding

2. Rosa Woolsoncroft

3. Geraldine Schmelzle

4. Max Huerter

5. Koch Truck Line Inc.

6. Fred & Diane Gallop

7. Avis Harris

8. Carl Nissen

9. Edwin Mai

10. Jeanna Randolph

Treasurer’s Top 10: Wyandotte County

This week, we highlight Wyandotte County! Here’s a look at the Top 10 people and businesses there with unclaimed assets. Do you know anyone below?Wyandotte Courthouse

If so, have them check out www.kansascash.com  and search their name to make a claim. They can also call 800-432-0386 (toll-free) or 785-296-4165.

1. Pamela Sturm
2. Kent Elliott
3. Clayton & Alice Hill
4. Sid Kuzecki
5. Robert Helm
6. Machinery & Supplies Company
7. Robert Collins
8. William Sykes
9. Florence Davis
10. Mary Caldwell

Money Matters: 5 Smart Uses for Your Tax Return

Tax RefundBy Amy Fontinelle, Investopedia

Even when we expect our tax returns to bring a refund, we all dread preparing for the tax deadline. The arcane tax forms, instructions few can decipher and our increasingly complex financial situations make each year’s return seem more painstaking than the last.

Many personal finance experts recommend adjusting your withholding so that you don’t get a refund check in the spring (arguing that this amounts to giving Uncle Sam an interest-free loan for several months) when you could be putting that money to immediate use. However, for some people, having the government hold their money for them is the easiest way to accomplish their savings goals.

Tutorial: Personal Income Tax Guide

But wait! If you don’t have a plan for the money when that refund check comes, it could be all too easy to spend it. Instead of succumbing to impulse, consider these five options for letting the savings you accumulated last year bring you greater financial security and peace of mind in the years to come.

1. Pay Down Debt
If you have high-interest credit card debt, putting your tax refund check towards paying it off will likely give you greater returns than any other option. That’s because when the balance you owe to credit card companies goes down, the interest (or finance charges) you have to pay on that debt also goes down. Depending on your interest rate, you’ll be saving anywhere from 10% to 29% per year in interest on any portion of your balance that you manage to wipe out. The simple act of using your refund to pay off an extra $1,000 of debt this year could save you hundreds of dollars in future finance charges.

SEE: Understanding Credit Card Interest

2. Fund Your Emergency Savings
If you’re fortunate enough to not have any credit card or other high-interest debt, put yourself in a stronger position to stay that way by putting your refund check into your emergency savings account. This special savings account will allow you to cover any expenses in case of an emergency, such as being laid off from work or faced with unexpected medical bills. Instead of borrowing money from credit card companies at high rates or paying interest and penalties on a loan from your 401(k), a well-funded emergency savings account will put you in a position to lend yourself the money for free without jeopardizing your credit score or your retirement. Most people need the equivalent of at least three months’ salary in an emergency fund to feel comfortable.

SEE: Build Yourself An Emergency Fund

3. Save for Retirement
If your credit card debt is non-existent and you’ve got several months worth of living expenses saved up, consider yourself ahead of the pack. To strengthen your financial position even further, consider putting your tax refund check into a Traditional or Roth IRA. If you don’t already have an IRA established, why not use this opportunity to start one?

As long as you meet certain income requirements as defined by the IRS, you’re entitled to open a Roth IRA even if you already have a 401(k), 403(b), or other employer-sponsored retirement plan.

4. Invest in Real Estate
If you don’t yet own your own home but would like to some day, now is the time to start working toward that goal. Having learned the lessons of the housing bubble, over the next few years, many potential homebuyers will be in a great position to take advantage of depressed housing prices and non-predatory loans. If you’re already a mortgage holder, paying off your mortgage principal early can help you save money in interest. Check with your mortgage lender to see what early payoff options are available under your loan terms.

SEE: Why Housing Market Bubbles Pop

5. Start a College Savings Fund
It’s never too early to start saving for your children’s tuition bills. The earlier you start, the less you’ll need to save, because compound interest and time will do much of the work for you. If you happen to save up four years’ worth of tuition early, you can always start putting your extra money towards college funds for books, computers and the like. A common tuition savings plan, called a section 529 plan, allows you to prepay qualified higher education expenses at eligible institutions. Not all 529 plans are the same, so you’ll want to do some research to see which would be the best fit for your family. Another option is a Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA). This tax-deferred account will help you accelerate your savings.

The Bottom Line
While none of these options are as glamorous as purchasing a flat-screen TV, remodeling your kitchen or cruising to Hawaii, giving yourself the kind of financial security that lets you breathe easy even in times of crisis will provide you with a cool composure that never goes out of style.

State Treasurer Ron Estes Explains Pension Bonding for KPERS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 24, 2015

Pension Bonding for KPERS by Kansas State Treasurer Ron Estes

It’s no secret that over the past 20 plus years the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System (KPERS) has been allowed to develop a large unfunded liability. The system has a total unfunded balance of $9.7 billion, $7.3 billion of which the state is paying for – contributions for state employees and K-12 school employees. The remaining liability is for local government employees, police officers, fire fighters, and judges. Now the question is “How do we best pay to fix this existing liability, or to use another term, this existing debt?

In 2012 the Legislature and Governor Brownback finally were able to pass legislation to begin to bring the system back. This fix involved rapidly increasing contributions over the next 20 years.

During this legislative session the use of pension obligation bonds to offset the cost of KPERS has been a major topic of discussion. The House and the Senate each have bills to authorize issuing these bonds. The state issued bonds would go toward reducing the unfunded liability for state employees and K-12 school employees. This is not new debt; the obligation already exists. It is like refinancing a variable rate mortgage so part of the unfunded liability is paid by locking in today’s lower interest rates.

Essentially the House bill will allow the state to refinance $1.5 billion by issuing bonds in the bond market and investing the proceeds from those bonds into the Kansas Public Employees Trust Fund. In doing so, the proceeds would be combined with the trust fund’s additional investments to increase potential earnings.

It’s a solution that is aimed at saving taxpayers money over the long run. It is projected that the state would pay approximately 4.4 percent in interest on the bonds, based on current market rates. During the last several 30-year rolling periods, the KPERS trust fund had an average earning over eight percent.

It’s a method our state has used successfully before. In 2004, the state issued $500 million in pension bonds at a 5.39 percent interest rate. Since then the KPERS fund has earned an average 7.45 percent interest on those investments, resulting in $174 million of profit for the state.

Of course the use of pension obligation bonds to pay down the funding gap in our pension plan has generated concern. Understandably so, this approach is generally not the preferred solution to settle a debt. However, measures will be taken to mitigate those associated risks. Let me explain….

– These pension bonds are not a new obligation for the state, but actually do lock in a payment plan at a less expensive cost.

– Debt payments for these bonds would come directly from the state general fund and not from the KPERS trust fund. In other words….KPERS will benefit from the funds provided by the bonds.

– This bonding approach does not have some of the issues that states like Illinois or cities like Detroit or Stockton created. Our bond proceeds will be in addition to state contributions, not replacing them. The bond proceeds will go directly to the KPERS trust fund, and not into the general fund.

With these measures in place, I believe the bonds will help us reach our goal of being 80 percent fully funded by 2022–three years earlier than originally planned during the 2012 legislature’s pension reform.

Ron Estes is the 39th state treasurer for the state of Kansas and is the first state-wide elected official from the city of Wichita in 20 years. He was elected to serve as the Midwest Regional Vice President for the National Association of State Treasurers 2012-2013, and now serves on the College Savings Plans Network Executive Board. Ron has also served as Sedgwick County Treasurer and as the treasurer for the Kansas County Treasurers’ Association. He was born in Topeka and is a fifth-generation Kansan. His family continues to run a farm in Osage County. Ron and his wife, Susan, have three children.

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Treasurer’s Top 10: Hamilton County

This week, we highlight Hamilton County! Here’s a look at the Top 10 people and businesses there with unclaimed assets. Do you know anyone below?

Hamilton County Courthouse

Hamilton County Courthouse

If so, have them check out www.kansascash.com  and search their name to make a claim. They can also call 800-432-0386 (toll-free) or 785-296-4165.

  1. Minnie Kell
  2. John O Seal
  3. Lewis Land Company
  4. Iola Behrendt
  5. David I. Brownlee
  6. John M. Miles
  7. Ethel V. Tope
  8. Knott Construction
  9. Wendell Householder & Helen Householder
  10. Richard Ortez