State Treasurer John Schroder is preparing to go to battle in court with Governor Edwards over the state trying to spend unclaimed property money as part of the state general fund.

Schroder says it is a bad policy that he believes is unlawful.

“I’m careful about saying that someone is doing something illegal, but I don’t believe the law specifically says that I’m supposed to turn this money over to the state general fund,” said Schroder.

Schroder says the department was short $20 million last fiscal year in paying 82,000 claims because of previous dips into unclaimed property money.

“This isn’t about me arbitrarily wanting to keep money.  That made us look at the law.  How can we change it because there is no mechanism for the treasury to go get money to pay claims if we don’t have it,” said Schroder.

Schroder recommends putting the $22-to-25 million a year into a savings account, investing it the same way the state invests its trust fund money, and then letting the state spend from the interest.  Schroder says the calculations have been done.

“Would you believe that after 25 years we’d be kicking off $70+ million that the government could use in any fashion that they want,” said Schroder.