PA wins big with major victory in front of SCOTUS, cutting of fees for college savings account holders in ’24

28 December 2023- Pennsylvania’s Treasury has grown in leaps and bounds in the last few years under the leadership of Treasurer Stacy Garrity, including major victories in front of the Supreme Court, cutting fees for PA 529 account holders, and a massive amount of unclaimed property being handed back to PA residents.

“I’m incredibly proud of what our team accomplished in 2023. 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.”
 Pennsylvania State Treasurer Stacy Garrity

Treasury set a record by returning nearly $274 million in unclaimed property in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2023. This included returns to more than 174,000 hardworking Pennsylvanians, businesses, nonprofits, and local government entities. In April, Treasury held its most successful unclaimed property auction ever, bringing in $285,000 in proceeds.

In addition, 87 military decorations, including five Purple Hearts, were returned to Veterans who earned them or their families in 2023.

“Returning these priceless decorations is one of my favorite parts of being Treasurer. It was a special honor to return five Purple Hearts this year, four to the families of Veterans and one to the Veteran himself. 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.”
 Pennsylvania State Treasurer Stacy Garrity

Altogether, Treasurer Garrity has returned 406 military decorations, including nine Purple Hearts and three Bronze Stars.

Pennsylvania families who use the PA 529 College and Career Savings Program to invest for education will save more than $11 million thanks to fee cuts made across the program. The program, which has been helping families save and pay for higher education for more than 30 years, saw its one millionth withdrawal this summer.

The PA 529 Investment Plan (IP) was named one of the two best plans in the entire country when it earned its first-ever Gold Rating from Morningstar in November – the best possible rating.

In a landmark unclaimed property case involving uncashed MoneyGram checks, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Treasury in February. Following the far-reaching decision, which clarifies federal law, $19 million worth of unclaimed property that is currently being held by Delaware is due to Pennsylvania. The lawsuit, originally filed by the Pennsylvania Treasury Department in 2016, was later joined by 29 other states.

Treasurer Garrity commended the General Assembly for its commitment to responsible budgeting with three consecutive large deposits into the Rainy Day Fund, including this year’s $900 million. This year’s deposit – which was enacted along with an important amendment by Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-41) to clarify the definition of “surplus” – raises Pennsylvania’s Rainy Day Fund balance to more than $6 billion. That’s enough to run the Commonwealth for more than 48 days, above the national median, and the growth in our reserve fund was noted in positive ratings actions by Moody’s, S&P, and Fitch.

To increase investment returns while meeting the liquidity needs of the Rainy Day Fund, Treasury created a new investment pool dedicated to the Rainy Day Fund in November.

Working closely with the Department of Labor and industry, Treasury implemented a smooth transition to a new unemployment compensation debit card provider, Money Network. The transition, which took place in February and March, affected approximately 47,000 claimants statewide.

Treasurer Garrity said she looks forward to working with the General Assembly on several important pieces of legislation in 2024.

PA Money Match will get unclaimed property back to Pennsylvanians faster than ever by allowing Treasury to make some returns automatically. Senate Bill 24, introduced by Sen. John DiSanto (R-15), passed the Senate unanimously in June and was unanimously approved by the House Finance Committee this month.

Two bills designed to enhance PA 529 are advancing. House Bill 1267, sponsored by Rep. Pat Gallagher (D-173), will help ensure the PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan runs as smoothly as possible and works to the best benefit of every family using it to save for education. It was unanimously approved by the House in June. And House Bill 1745, sponsored by Rep. Paul Friel (D-26), will provide tax credits to employers who make contributions to their employees’ 529 accounts. It was unanimously approved by the House Education Committee this month.

Keystone Saves, a commonsense plan to help hardworking Pennsylvanians save their own money for retirement, would operate much like the PA 529 College and Career Savings Program. It has been introduced as House Bill 577 and Senate Bill 728. HB 577, sponsored by Rep. Kyle Mullins (D-112), was approved by the House in May.

Bipartisan, pro-taxpayer legislation to streamline and improve the process of resolving disputes with the Department of Revenue was announced this month. The proposal is sponsored by Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-21) and Rep. Tim Briggs (D-29).