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         FLORIDA CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER ALEX SINK'S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

         Volume 5, Number 25, June 20, 2008
        
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All across our state, Floridians are dealing with pain at the pump. As the price of gasoline continues to increase, families are struggling to do more with less and are understandably looking for real solutions to solve this important issue.

CFO Alex Sink addressed the price at the pump this week, demanding that more be done to help Floridians reduce prices through alternative energy sources and new technologies. By investing in sustainable and renewable energy, the beauty and appeal of our state’s most vital natural resources will remain untainted for generations to come. Florida’s beaches are among our nation’s finest, and our economy is dependent on keeping it that way.   

As Chief Financial Officer, Alex Sink is committed to long-term, fiscally responsible solutions to our state’s most pressing issues. Standing up for everyday Floridians means staying focused on what is best for our state, putting Florida first.  

 


BUREAU OF UNCLAIMED PROPERTY RETURNS $12,000 IN HEIRLOOMS

CFO Sink’s Bureau of Unclaimed Property today returned nearly $12,000 in unclaimed family heirlooms from a safe deposit box to an Okaloosa couple.   

Joyce and Philip Humber of Mary Esther drove to Tallahassee Friday to retrieve the possessions of Mrs. Humber’s mother's safe deposit box.  Family heirlooms in the box included military ribbons, jewelry and a coin collection.

Florida is considered one of the nation's most effective and efficient unclaimed property programs, returning nearly $172 million last fiscal year to Floridians on more than 254,000 approved claims.  Currently, there are 85,800 unclaimed property accounts for a total of $10.2 million in Leon County and 24,608 unclaimed property accounts for a total of $2.8 million in Okaloosa County. 

Unclaimed Property can be claimed free of charge, at any time, by visiting www.fltreasurehunt.org, or by calling 1-88-VALUABLE.


CFO SINK PRESENTS AWARDS AT FLORIDA INSURANCE FRAUD EDUCATION COMMITTEE  CONFERENCE

At the Florida Insurance Fraud Education Committee Conference (FIFEC) in Orlando, CFO Sink thanked attendees for their help in fighting insurance fraud in Florida.  Insurance fraud has been estimated to cost Floridians as much as $1,400 a year per person.  CFO Sink’s Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF) investigates various forms of fraud in insurance, including health, life, auto, property and workers' compensation insurance.   

At the event, the CFO also highlighted two new pieces of legislation – a Public Adjuster and Annuities bill - which her office pursued during the 2008 Legislative session in an effort to strengthen regulations and protect seniors.  She also recognized the department’s Detective Steve Firestone for his outstanding achievements as winner of the Law Enforcement Detective of the Year Award. 

Depending on the estimated loss amount, the department will pay up to $25,000 for information directly leading to an arrest and conviction of fraud.  Anyone with information about suspected insurance fraud is asked to call the department's Fraud Fighters Hotline at 1-800-378-0445 or log on to www.MyFloridaCFO.com/fraud. Complaints can be tracked online. 


Money-Smart Idea of the Week

Idea: Learn smart food shopping skills 

Food eats up 14 percent of your household budget on average - up 5 percent from a year ago. Shopping smart at the food store can save big over the year.

Stores use all kinds of marketing tools to get you to buy more than you need and more than you ever intended to buy. The supermarket is set up so that you will buy on impulse. The more you see, the more you purchase, thus necessary items, such as milk, are located in the back of the store so you must traverse the long aisles.

Make a list of what you need and stick to it. Try not to shop when you are hungry or tired as you'll find it harder to resist those tempting treats and non-essential goodies.

Search high and low as the cheapest items often occupy the top and bottom shelves.  Companies pay for prime space on middle shelves and aisle ends.

You could realize potential savings of up to $1,200 a year by cutting out just half of unplanned purchases.  Be disciplined in your shopping habits.

When staples items go on sale, stock up. Get the weekly list of items at your local store and buy in bulk when deep discounts are on. Your potential savings could be more than $1,000 a year.

Try a little home cooking. A homemade meal on the table five nights a week may seem difficult, but taking turns with the planning and sharing the duties will make the task easier. Get the knack for the day-to-day basics by following a cookbook loaded with recipes for quick and simple meals.

Plan menus with overlapping ingredients and buy everything for the week at once, then you can save money and put a dinner together in the time it would take to pick up takeout.

Tip provided by
MoneyonCNNMoney.com


CFO SINK LAUNCHES “A.L.Ex.” - ACADEMY OF LEADERSHIP EXCELLENCE PROGRAM - AND ANNOUNCES 2008 INAUGURAL CLASS

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU) President Dr. James H. Ammons, and Florida State University (FSU) President T.K. Wetherell today announced the launch of the A.L.Ex., the Academy of Leadership Excellence program within the Florida Department of Financial Services.

“I commend the 2008 inaugural class of the A.L.Ex. program for their academic achievement and their commitment to public service,” said CFO Alex Sink, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. “As a state, we need to do everything we can to encourage and mentor our young people, providing a pathway for public service and a lifetime of success.”

The Academy of Leadership and Excellence program will provide real-world work experience, professional development, and career opportunities in public service for Florida’s best and brightest university students. Students will receive substantive and challenging work assignments from their assigned mentor and have their work evaluated on a professional level.

“This is a great opportunity for our students to gain experience that will help give them a competitive edge,” said FAMU President James H. Ammons. “The students recognized today by CFO Sink are some of our best and brightest. We are hoping that they will seriously consider careers in Florida and in state government. These are students who have the potential to become the future leaders of our state.”

“The real-world experience and instruction acquired through this program will give our students a great opportunity to succeed in either the public or private sector” said FSU President T.K. Wetherell. “I thank CFO Sink and the mentors throughout the department for investing in the future.”

The inaugural class of 2008 consists of 18 university students from FSU and FAMU within 11 divisions of the Department of Financial Services. Students have paid positions and are required to work at least 20 hours a week. All students must maintain above a 3.0 GPA and be a junior, senior or a graduate student. This class’s average GPA is 3.5. Future classes will be open to all state university students.


CFO ADDRESSES GIRLS STATE IN THE CAPITOL

Florida Girls State visited the Florida Capitol this week for the annual meeting in Tallahassee.  CFO Sink spoke to about 300 high school girls in the House of Representative’s chamber about the important role finances play in a woman’s career. She also addressed the large gains women have made in politics – citing the many women who now hold public office - and challenging the students to always stand up for what they believe.

Girls State is a practical application of Americanism and good citizenship. The entire program is a non-partisan, non-political attempt to teach and inculcate in the youth of America a love of God and country.

The purpose of Girls State is to provide citizenship training for girls of high school age in every Department of the American Legion Auxiliary; to afford them an opportunity to live together as self-governing citizens; to inform them about the duties, privileges, rights and responsibilities of American citizenship, in order that they may understand and participate in the functioning of their government; and to help them grasp the meaning of some of the responsibilities which they must assume when they become adults.

The 2008 Session of Florida Girls State was held June 12 - 20, 2008.


CFO SINK ADDRESSES FLORIDA’S COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE WOMEN OF ORLANDO (CREW)

CFO Alex Sink shared her views on Florida’s commercial real estate market with the Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) of Orlando at their June luncheon meeting. CFO Sink acknowledged that Florida’s economic slowdown has spilled into the commercial real estate markets and challenged members of CREW to apply the unique principles of CREW to reinvent their industry.

“I believe that Florida is uniquely positioned to reinvent itself once again,” said Sink. “The challenges our economy is facing with real estate are not new, for those who’ve been around awhile, they’re part of our history. Florida’s entrepreneurial spirit will prevail, and long-term indications are that the market will normalize going into 2010.”

With vacancies on the rise and absorption falling, warehouse and industrial space is showing stability and sustaining the commercial real estate market thanks in large part to Florida’s strong growth in exports and international trade.

CFO Sink encouraged attendees to look to the international markets where the weaker dollar makes investment in the U.S. more attractive than ever, as evidenced by the recent announcement that a London-based company representing foreign investors and funds is purchasing distressed ocean-front condos and undeveloped land in Sarasota.


CFO SINK VISITS AMERICA’S OLDEST CITY’S FIRST ROTARY CLUB

The St. Augustine Rotary Club, one of Florida’s oldest Rotary Clubs, hosted CFO Sink this week at the restored Casa Monica Hotel.

CFO Sink shared with the Rotarians the current challenges with property insurance. She also discussed her proposal to reduce the amount of hurricane assessments - taxes - that Floridians pay should we have a bad storm.


CFO SINK SPEAKS TO  NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF INDUSTRIAL AND OFFICE PROPERTIES IN JACKSONVILLE

CFO Alex Sink was the guest speaker for the Northeast Florida National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP). The CFO addressed the issues of commercial insurance availability and rates, urging NAIOP members to contact their agents as prices have decreased by double digits during the year as Florida has been spared through two consecutive hurricane seasons.

“The reinsurance markets have softened and the big reinsurers are interested once again in Florida’s business,” said CFO Sink. “I’ve been hearing that rates are falling as much as 10 to 20 percent, so if you haven’t heard from your agent, I suggest you give them a call.”

The CFO also challenged the group to leverage the bright spots in Florida’s economy today, the growing international exports and trade, by marketing the state’s excess real estate to international buyers who would still find Florida property a bargain.

“Jacksonville is recognized as being one our state’s most livable cities and is poised for additional growth,” said Sink. “With the expansion of your port facilities, Jacksonville should be in good position to attract even more investment from Europe and Latin America. Jacksonville’s excellent transportation network and housing choices, combined with the weakness in the dollar, makes the area attractive to international investment and a target for investors interested in U.S. real estate.”



AMSTERDAM CONFERENCE FEATURES CFO SINK ON BBC WORLD DEBATE

CFO Alex Sink attended the Amsterdam Global Conference on Sustainability and Transparency in May, sponsored by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the City of Amsterdam. Her trip was sponsored and supported by the non-profit organization GRI. Climate change is topping the international agenda and fueling debate about sustainability, particularly the role of business in mitigating its efforts.

The diverse and engaging program culminated in a BBC World News Debate that was broadcast on the BBC World News channel, moderated by BBC presenter Nik Gowing. As a member of the panel, CFO Sink discussed the financial risks of climate change for investors. The debate is available for viewing at http://www.bbcworld.com/Pages/ProgrammeFeature.aspx?id=196&FeatureID=753


CFO SINK ADDRESSES THE EXCHANGE CLUB IN TALLAHASSEE

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink addressed the Tallahassee Exchange Club, the oldest civic club in Tallahassee, today at their weekly lunch. CFO Sink spoke to the group of community leaders about her role as CFO and emphasized the important role of civic clubs throughout our state.


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