Dear Fellow Floridian:
This week, the Fitch Rating Agency reaffirmed Florida’s AAA credit rating
and upgraded our outlook from negative to stable. Fitch’s announcement is
great news for our state and an affirmation that our efforts to grow the
economy, decrease debt and ensure government accountability are paying off.
Florida's AAA rating translates directly into savings for Florida taxpayers
by keeping our borrowing costs low and keeping taxpayer dollars where they
belong – in the pockets of
our residents. Floridians know best how to spend their money and in turn that
best strengthens our economy.
The Fitch report attributes Florida’s upgrade to a trend of economic
stabilization and the implementation of fiscally prudent measures, such as a
balanced state budget. Because of Florida’s sound financial practices today,
Florida is going to be more prosperous tomorrow.
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida
Auction Breaks Record at $1.67 Million
Florida CFO Atwater has announced that the Unclaimed Property Auction held
last Saturday in Fort Lauderdale was the highest-grossing auction in the 52-year
history of Florida’s unclaimed property program, breaking the previous record by
$430,000. The auction, which drew 336 bidders, raised a total of $1.67 million
for Florida’s schools from more than 80,000 individual items sold.
“This auction was a tremendous success for Florida’s unclaimed property program
and the families who benefit from the program’s important work,” said CFO
Atwater. “I am very proud of the men and women in my department who work
tirelessly to reunite Floridians with their dollars and property while also
doing so much to help our public schools with the sales from our auctions.”
CFO Atwater opened as guest auctioneer, selling featured items such as two
1776 continental notes. All auctioned items were from abandoned safe deposit
boxes at Florida financial institutions.
Unclaimed money, including the earnings from auctions, is deposited into the
state school fund, where, until claimed, it is used for public education. There
is no statute of limitations, and citizens have the right to claim their
property any time at no cost.
In his first 30 months in office, CFO Atwater’s Bureau of Unclaimed Property
has seen record returns, reuniting more than 850,000 owners, heirs and
businesses with more than $574 million, which represents 27 percent of the total
value of property returned since the program’s inception in 1961.
To browse or claim unclaimed property, visit
www.FLTreasureHunt.org, or call 1-88-VALUABLE or 850-413-5555.
First Conviction of Staged Motor Vehicle Accident in Lee County
Florida CFO Atwater announced the conviction of Alain Guevara, 29, of Lehigh
Acres for staging a motor vehicle accident. Guevara pleaded guilty this week at
the beginning of a jury trial scheduled in the 20th Judicial Circuit Court,
making it Lee County's first
conviction involving a staged motor vehicle accident, which carries a two-year
minimum mandatory sentence.
“I applaud the hard work of our fraud investigators for thoroughly
investigating all leads to bring this individual to justice,” said CFO Atwater.
“We will not tolerate anyone who cheats the system, because it steals from every
An investigation by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of
Insurance Fraud (DIF) revealed that Guevara and an accomplice staged a vehicle
crash in August 2012 and then knowingly presented false, incomplete and
misleading information for payment of a PIP claim.
The investigation included the subpoena of phone records, which revealed that
the two parties involved in the crash were not strangers and that there were
repeated calls between the drivers immediately before and after the accident
occurred. The insurance companies that received the fraudulent claims were
Allstate Insurance Company and REPWEST Insurance Company.
Anyone with information of suspected insurance fraud is asked to call
800-378-0445. Citizens who provide tips can remain anonymous. The Department of
Financial Services to date has awarded more than $340,000 to more than 50
citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program. The program rewards
individuals up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and
conviction in an insurance fraud scheme.
Innovation Drives Florida's Economy
Florida has worked hard to create an environment for long-term growth and
investment that allows businesses to better serve their communities and
employ more of their neighbors. This culture of economic innovation has
be recognized as
the “Most Innovative State in the Nation” by
Fast Company magazine this year.
Beginning with this edition on biotechnology, Florida’s Bottom Line
is presenting a three-part series on
Innovative Florida, highlighting the people and
industries that are driving our future as a diversified economy. We are now
recognized as one of the most attractive areas worldwide for the
biotechnology industry, with more than 200 biotechnology companies calling
The quarterly edition of Florida's Bottom Line is
complemented by its often-updated website,
www.MyFloridaCFO.com/FloridasBottomLine. When new
economic data is released, it can be found here. Florida's consumer
confidence, retail index, employment statistics and various other
resources will keep you up-to-date.