MADISON (AP) – Ho-Chunk Nation members will continue receiving lump sums of more than $200,000 at age 18, after the tribal legislature put off voting on a proposal to delay the payments or tie them to schooling or work.
The money comes from the tribe’s gambling operations, which distribute profits to members quarterly. Children’s shares go into a trust fund that pays out when they are 18.
Tribal leaders have been concerned that many teens burn through the cash quickly and end up with little to show for their spending. Some wanted to postpone the payments until members were in their 20s or enrolled in college, in the military or employed full-time.
But the tribal legislature didn’t vote Monday on proposed changes and instead agreed to pass the suggestion on as an informational item for the tribe’s General Council meeting in September, the Wisconsin State Journal reported Wednesday.
“It’s really a no-action vote,” legislator Robert Two Bears said. “It seems like it’s a dead bill.”
A task force began studying in the issue in 2010 amid concerns that 18-year-olds may be too young to handle such a windfall. A survey of tribal members found nine out of 10 regretted how they spent their trust fund payments.
Proposed changes would have scaled back the amount teens received at high school graduation and paid the rest when members met certain benchmarks, such as going to college or taking classes in financial literacy.
Two Bears said he supported delaying payments until age 21 or 26, but didn’t favor linking them to work or education.
Some families had protested any change, saying they rely on the money for basic needs or one-time expenses.