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Changing coins composition saves taxpayers “coins”

June 19, 2019
From: U.S. Senator Joni Ernst - R-Iowa , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

I continue to make Washington "squeal," this time calling on Congress to help save over $150 million of taxpayer money by allowing the U.S. Mint to modify the composition of certain coins.

Iowa taxpayers are getting nickeled-and-dimed by the increasing costs of certain metals for producing coins. Right now, it costs hardworking taxpayers seven cents to make one nickel. Congress can fix this, and they need to.

That's why I've put forward this commonsense bill that will allow the Mint the flexibility to use cheaper materials to produce certain coins, without changing the size or functionality of them.

Article Photos

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst
R-Iowa

The Currency Evolution Now To Save (CENTS) Act would give the Treasury Department, specifically the U.S. Mint, the authority to change the composition of the nickel, dime, quarter, and half dollar coins if these changes save taxpayer dollars and do not impact the coins' size or functionality. These changes would happen under the conditions that (1) the changes reduce the overall cost of minting the coin and (2) the changes do not affect the diameter, weight, and functionality of the coin. This could save more than $150 million over 10 years.

In their Fiscal Year 2019 budget justification, the U.S. Mint requested that Congress give it the authority to change the composition of coins in order to save taxpayer money. In addition, a March 2019 watchdog report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommended Congress consider providing the U.S. Mint with that authority.

CENTS Act

The Currency Evolution Now To Save (CENTS) Act would give the Treasury Department the authority to change the composition of the nickel, dime, quarter, and half dollar coins if these changes save taxpayer dollars and do not impact the coins' size or functionality.

This could save more than $150 million over 10 years.

Background Congress has established very specific guidelines regarding the size and composition of coins in circulation.

In the 1980s, Congress provided flexibility for the Treasury to modify the composition of the penny, but this authority has not been extended to other coins.

Over the past decade, U.S. Mint has conducted three different studies to identify less costly metal alloys that couldbe used in nickels, dimes, and quarters. They found that millions of dollars in cost savings could be achieved by changing the composition of coins in ways that would have no impact on their functionality.

The Mint asked for the authority to change the composition of coins in their fiscal year 2019 budget justification.

Likewise, a March 2019 GAO report recommended Congress "consider amending the law to provide the Secretary of the Treasury with the authority to alter the metal composition of circulating coins if the new metal compositions reduce the cost of coin production and do not affect the size, weight, appearance, or electromagnetic signature of the coins."

 
 
 

 

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