Issues of Interest

UNCLAIMED PROPERTY In December, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced that since 2001, $900 million in unclaimed property has been returned to its rightful owner. The program currently holds unclaimed property accounts valued at more than $1 billion, which includes funds from dormant accounts in financial institutions, insurance and utility companies, securities and trust holdings. Unclaimed property includes tangible property such as watches, jewelry, coins, currency, stamps, historical items and other miscellaneous articles from abandoned safe deposit boxes. Unclaimed money is deposited into the state school fund, where it is used for public education. There is, however, no statute of limitations and citizens have the right to claim their property at any time. For more information, go to https://www.fltreasurehunt.org/.

BALLOT INITIATIVE A coalition has formed to put a constitutional amendment on the 2016 ballot that would allow businesses and property owners to sell a limited amount of solar energy. “Floridians for Solar Choice” members include the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the Florida Retail Federation, the Florida Solar Energy Industries Association, the Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy, the Christian Coalition of America, the Libertarian Party of Florida, the Republican Liberty Caucus of Tampa Bay and the Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida. The coalition must first gather roughly 700,000 valid signatures of registered voters and have the ballot language  approved by the state Supreme Court.

EDUCATION FUNDING Governor Scott is proposing additional money for our schools, increasing the per student funding to an historic $7,176. Almost $9 billion of the proposed $19.75 billion would come from local property taxes.

And, in the ongoing battle for public school and charter school funding, Governor Scott has proposed spending $100 million on charter school construction and maintenance. In 2012 and 2013, charter schools received the bulk of funding for construction and maintenance. Traditional schools received more than $100 million for capital projects in the 2014-2015 budget.

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