- Associated Press - Thursday, December 15, 2016

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration said liquidating an investment fund tied to Kansas’ unclaimed property would only provide $40 million to $50 million in helping decrease the state’s $350 million budget shortfall.

A 2000 law change directed the state to invest an amount equal to the unclaimed property it receives each year, the Topeka Capital-Journal (http://bit.ly/2hAK9G1 ) reported. This means that part of the investment fund could be sold to generate money into the state’s general fund if the latter had a low balance. State budget director Shawn Sullivan said, however, that’s never actually happened.

Sullivan’s conclusion echoed Treasurer Ron Estes’ explanation that only a fraction of the fund’s $360 million value could be used to shrink the budget deficit. Sullivan said $40 million figure is interest that wouldn’t be a part of the state general fund. This would mean Brownback cannot solely rely on selling off the fund to close the budget gap.

A large chunk of the investment fund comes from fixed-income investments, and another chunk from domestic and international equities.

“Unclaimed property belongs to the people of Kansas, not the state of Kansas,” Estes said.

Sullivan didn’t say if liquidating the fund would be part of the governor’s proposal to close the gap, but acknowledged that officials have recently been seeking information.

Republican Senate President Susan Wagle ruled out using the investment fund.

“I can assure you the legislators I talk to are opposed to a one-time borrow-money-to-plug-a-hole solution,” Wagle said.

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Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com

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