Dear Fellow Floridian:
At a meeting of the Florida Cabinet this week, the Division of Bond
Finance reported that Florida has reduced its outstanding debt by $2
billion over the last two years.
Total state outstanding debt decreased by approximately $500 million in 2011 and is expected to decrease by $1.5 billion this year.
Ben Watkins, director of the Division of Bond Finance, also reported that
ongoing debt refinancing has saved taxpayers an additional $744 million
on future interest payments over the last two years. Of this, $53 million in
interest savings was achieved by using the state treasury as an investment
vehicle to assist in bond refunding.
We have proven yet again that an unwavering commitment to making tough
decisions in tight financial times equates to a more prosperous Florida.
These decisions have preserved our AAA credit rating, reduced our debt
and continued to cultivate an attractive, stable business environment.
Additionally, we have refinanced our outstanding debt to lower interest rates,
which serves as another example of how fiscal discipline helps keep money in the
pockets of hardworking Floridians.
I commend Director Watkins for his diligent efforts and commitment to our
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida
DFS: $61 million in Settlement Money
Through joint investigative efforts with other states, Florida found
a widespread practice among insurers selectively using the Social
Security Death Master File to stop making payments when policyholders
passed away. Although companies were using this file to their advantage,
they were at the same time ignoring it to pay death benefits to the
CFO Atwater’s team helped to negotiate an estimated $61 million in
settlement money for consumers. To date, the CFO’s office has reached
settlement agreements with Prudential, John Hancock, Nationwide, MetLife
and AIG. For more information on the settlement agreements visit
Unclaimed Property: Have You Checked?
You know the feeling when the $20 bill you left in your pocket turns
up in the dryer? It’s a good feeling. And every year, Floridians have
this same feeling when they discover their forgotten treasure through
CFO Jeff Atwater's Bureau of Unclaimed Property. The bureau holds money
from dormant accounts from financial institutions, insurance and utility
companies, securities and trust holdings until the owners are found.
Oftentimes, abandoned safe deposit boxes hold forgotten property. The
contents of abandoned boxes are sent to the bureau to hold until the
rightful owners or heirs are found.
The bureau is proactive and diligent in its efforts to reconnect Floridians
with their lost or forgotten property. Since CFO Atwater took office, records
have been broken by putting $375 million back in the hands of Floridians. But
there is currently an estimated $1 billion in unclaimed property accounts
waiting for the rightful owners. Search
or call 1-88-VALUABLE to see if you have an unclaimed property account. And
remember, there is no charge to claim your unclaimed property from the state.
Hurricane Sandy Skirts the Florida Coast
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater is urging Floridians to
ensure they have financial documents and home inventories gathered as
Hurricane Sandy threatens the state. A tropical storm warning has been
issued for much of the east coast of Florida and as a result, homeowners
need to thoroughly review the coverage they have.
Once a tropical storm warning has been issued, you are unable to make changes
to your policy and this continues until 72 hours following the termination of
the last hurricane watch or warning issued for any part of Florida by the
National Hurricane Center.
CFO Atwater’s Disaster Preparation webpage has many tips and details on how
to prepare for a potential disaster, and insurance specialists are available
Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., on the CFO’s Consumer Helpline at
1-877-MY-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236) to assist with questions you may have about
Florida's Bottom Line
quarter’s issue of Florida’s Bottom Line focuses on how federal
regulations are causing community banks and credit unions to divert
resources away from lending to small businesses, causing them to spend
increased amounts of time and money attempting to comply with new
Florida’s Bottom Line also provides the most up-to-date financial
and economic statistics for Florida, serving as a roadmap for your
Florida Students $ave Essay
With almost half of graduating high school seniors saying they’re
unsure or unprepared to manage their own personal finances, and with the
average 23- to 28-year-old carrying more than $14,000 in debt, it’s
clear that there is a need to prepare our teens for the opportunities
and challenges that their futures hold.
Working with Florida Master Money Mentors, The James Madison
Institute and the Florida Council on Economic Education, we have
developed the Florida Students $ave
Essay Contest. The contest is part of the Your Money Matters education
initiative, which aims to equip Floridians with financial knowledge in
an easy and accessible way.
The goal of the contest is to motivate young people to develop
personal financial skills and better prepare them for college and the
workplace. The contest will award hundreds of dollars to Florida
students who present the best research and planning in response to
scenarios that reflect on short- and long-term financial goals.
The contest is open to all Florida high school students (public,
private, charter, virtual or homeschool) for the 2012-13 school year.
From now through Nov. 30, students can submit essays of up to 1,200
words for a chance to win a first-place prize of $250. Second- and
third-place winners will receive $150 and $50 respectively. Three
winners will be chosen from each of five regions across Florida:
Northwest Florida, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa and South Florida.
For more information about the essay contest, including a list of contest
rules, regions and how to submit an essay, visit
www.MyFloridaCFO.com/YMM or call the Division of Consumer Services helpline
at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (693-5236).