Sen. Anthony Hensley is right, and a
Republican Rep. Barbara Bollier is wrong.
Bollier told the Topeka Capital-Journal that the unclaimed property fund could be used, because you, dear servant, err taxpayer, haven't given enough to the state.
"If people haven't claimed it after two years or five years, then yes--it's kind of like finder's keepers," Bollier said.
No, Bollier. It isn't. Typically, if I find cash on the street and take it to the police department, the police department holds it for a number of days, weeks, or months searching for the rightful owner. Then it is returned to the person who found it; They don't keep it and buy the department a pizza party.
Bollier was speaking of a fund where unclaimed assets are held as the state treasurer seeks the rightful owner. These can be bank deposit boxes that go unpaid, paychecks that for some reason never find their owner, and utility deposits.
First, a personal story:
Back in the mid-1960s, my dad--who has a very common name--lived in Lyons, Kansas. At that time, people bought insurance policies from traveling salesmen who would return month after month to collect fees. Back then, a young Dan and his four sisters received insurance policies from an unscrupulous salesman who was pocketing the money instead of paying the monthly installments on the insurance policies. At some point, the sales man was arrested and charged, and Dan's sister's were awarded some of the money they lost in the fraud.
For some reason, Dan never received his, and I know this, because I've been hearing about it regularly for my entire life. He continued wondering what happened to his portion of the money. For more than 50 years, he wondered why his sisters received a check when he didn't. Seriously, every time he talked to his sister Leona he would bring up the age old wound--half jokingly--of her receiving that check a million years ago.
Fast forward to a month ago: Dan never searched the Kansas State Treasurer's website for his birth name "Daniel," but for some reason on that day, he did. And there it was! A claim for a Daniel who lived at his address from 50 years ago in Lyons!
It was such a joyous event, I didn't think he'd cash the check when it arrived about a week ago. (BTW, Thank you, Tom, in the Kansas Treasurer's Office! You made his Christmas, and not because of the cash: He had to take photos and send them to Leona.)
During the wait for Dad's check, my mom kept signing into the treasurer's website to track the progress of the case. (You can search for your own name here.) There she found a check that belonged to me. My first name was spelled wrong; it was made out in my maiden name; but the address was my old address. I had overpaid insurance back in 2010.
Bollier's suggestion that after 5 years, the state should just get to keep the money is an abomination. I would much rather the insurance company in my case be allowed to keep the cash. And in my father's case, I have a feeling he would rather that check--which he hadn't forgotten about--go just about anywhere other than the state of Kansas.
Oddly, Anthony Hensley's sentiments on Bollier's disgusting plan of theft mirror my own. He told the Cap-J that plugging a budget hole using unclaimed property would be a betrayal of Kansans.
"That's the people's money," he said.
I would only add that ALL taxpayer money rightfully belongs to the people, and legislators should remember that as they grapple with next year's budget.