Treasury touts cost-cutting, return of military medals

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(The Center Square) — With the start of 2024, the Pennsylvania Treasurer wants residents to know how it’s cut costs for taxpayers in 2023.

“I’m incredibly proud of what our team accomplished in 2023,” Treasurer Stacy Garrity said in a press release. “From setting records by returning unclaimed property to cutting program fees and earning a huge new honor for the PA 529 program – and even a victory at the U.S. Supreme Court, Treasury is doing more for Pennsylvania’s taxpayers than ever before. And we’re committed to working even harder in 2024.”

The court case refers to a dispute with Delaware that ended in March, netting the commonwealth $20 million in unclaimed property, mostly uncollected checks that Delaware had kept instead of returning.

Garrity also touted large deposits into the state’s Rainy Day Fund, which holds enough to fund the state government for 48 days, about $6 billion, in case of an economic downturn.

“The Independent Fiscal Office predicts that we’ll face a fiscal cliff in just a few years,” Garrity said. “Just like Pennsylvanians plan for emergencies with their personal finances, the state must build its reserves.”

In November, Treasury created an investment pool for the Rainy Day Fund to boost returns.

The state’s reserves, Garrity argued, helped Pennsylvania get its financial outlook upgraded by Moody’s from “stable” to “positive” in September — something for which Democrats and Republicans alike claimed credit.

The 529 program lets families save to pay for their children’s education costs, but it tends to be used by wealthy families with the vast majority being in urban counties. Garrity noted that Treasury had made $11 million in fee cuts to lower costs for families who use a plan, and also cut fees for PA ABLE accounts, which help disabled Pennsylvanians save more.

On a more personal level, almost 90 military decorations were returned in 2023 to veterans and their families, including five Purple Hearts, from Treasury’s unclaimed property vault.

“It was a special honor to return five Purple Hearts this year, four to the families of Veterans and one to the Veteran himself,” Garrity said. “One that was especially meaningful was connecting with the family of the late Adrian Cronauer, a World War II veteran who was shot in Germany – his uniform button saved his life. Now future generations of Adrian’s family can honor his legacy with the Purple Heart he was awarded for his tremendous bravery.”

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