The Louisiana Department of Revenue is not part of the Louisiana Department of Treasury. If you have any questions for the Department of Revenue, please call (855) 307-3893 or visit http://revenue.louisiana.gov/

Home
Treasurer Kennedy
Unclaimed Property
State Bond Commission
News Room
DivisionsExpand Divisions
START
Links
Contact Us

Newsroom

 Press Releases

10/31/2014
First Assistant State Treasurer Receives

BATON ROUGE, LA - First Assistant State Treasurer Ron Henson was honored with the prestigious Monte M. Lemann Award on Oct. 24 in New Orleans.
 
The award honors five citizens each year who have made the greatest contributions to the advancement of Louisiana's Merit System of Public Employment. Given by the Louisiana Civil Service League, the award seeks to illuminate the appointing authorities or leaders who uphold the principles of the merit system. 
 
"I sincerely appreciate this award. It is an honor and a privilege to work for State Treasurer John Kennedy and the state of Louisiana. I have been blessed with tremendous opportunities," said First Assistant State Treasurer Henson.
 
Henson is a 36-year veteran of state government. Born in Searcy, Arkansas, he grew up in El Dorado, where he graduated from El Dorado High School. He received a degree in business administration from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston. He began his career in public service in 1974. He was appointed First Assistant State Treasurer in February 2000 by Treasurer Kennedy. Henson represents the Treasurer on a number of boards and commissions. He also oversees the staff of the Treasury Department.
 
"I have known Mr. Henson for almost 30 years now and have had the privilege of working alongside him for nearly 20. He is one of my most trusted advisors, and I rely on his expertise and experience, especially when making important financial, budgetary, personnel and human resource decisions," said Treasurer Kennedy.


   

 State Treasurer John Kennedy, (left) with First Assistant State Treasurer Ron Henson after the award ceremony

10/30/2014
Statement from State Treasurer John Kennedy:

"This is more make-believe by the Division of Administration.  The truth is we have more than $600 million available for capital outlay projects.  The Division is asking me to sign a document that could violate the anti-fraud provision of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Act.  We are working on language to try to prevent that, and we have plenty of time to do a bond issue.  In the meantime, there is ample money for state construction projects.  After all, the Division says we have a budget surplus."

 

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
From: Greg Dupuis [
mailto:Greg.Dupuis@la.gov]
Sent: Thursday, October 30, 2014 4:28 PM
To: Greg Dupuis
Subject: Division of Administration Asks Legislators to Help Progress Bond Issue
 
 
State of Louisiana
Division of Administration
Office of the Commissioner
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Meghan Parrish, 225-342-7000
 
 
Division of Administration Asks Legislators to Help Progress Bond Issue
 
 
BATON ROUGE -Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols today sent a letter to Legislators asking for their help in urging the Treasurer to perform his duties as the Chairman of the Bond Commission. 
 
The Commission unanimously approved a new money bond sale and a bond refunding October 16. Those transactions are now being threatened by Treasurer Kennedy's refusal to sign the official statement that will allow the rating agencies to provide ratings for the bonds.
 
The content of the letter is included below.
 
Dear Legislators,
 
At the October 16, 2014 Bond Commission meeting, the Commission unanimously approved a new money bond sale for $200 million to finance critical projects across the state and a refunding bond issue that is expected to save Louisiana $17 million in present value savings and $7 million in the State General Fund in fiscal years 2015 and 2016. Those transactions are now being threatened by Treasurer Kennedy's refusal to sign the official statement that will allow the rating agencies to provide ratings for the bonds.
 
The state financial advisor agrees that the official statement should be sent to rating agencies by Monday, November 3 to ensure we meet the agreed upon timelines. If the Treasurer does not sign the statement by then, both the new money bond sale and the refunding will be in danger of being delayed. 
 
Typically, the state financial advisor recommends against issuing bonds in December because the rating agencies will be awaiting the state's 2014 audit and will need the first half of January to review.  It is possible funding in the capital outlay account will run out before a January sale date.
 
If the capital outlay fund is depleted before bonds are issued, critical capital outlay projects across the state will be delayed, including University Medical Center in New Orleans, LSU's Patrick Taylor Hall, the National World War II Museum, LSU Shreveport's Children's Hospital, and important water, fire and critical service upgrades.
 
Treasurer Kennedy voted to approve the sale and the refinance at the October 16 meeting.  He also issued a press release the same day, touting the funding generated from the sale. "We approved funding that will repair schools, improve drinking water and enhance health care infrastructure, among other projects," said Kennedy. "We also continue to save money on interest."
 
However, a recent article in the Monroe News-Star quotes the Treasurer stating he will not authorize the bond issue.  "Eventually, we have to have a bond issue," Kennedy said. "But my preference is not even to do a bond issue until the spring or summer. Why should we be paying interest before the money is needed?"
 
In the News-Star article, Kennedy proposes intra-fund borrowing as an alternative to issuing bonds in November, noting $400 million currently in the account. However, at least half of that funding is not legally available for borrowing. Additionally, there is not yet a mechanism to allow intra-fund borrowing.  The issue was discussed at the October 16 meeting where the Commission resolved to delay the use of intra-fund borrowing until more information on the potential consequences of intra-fund borrowing was presented.
 
I ask that you join me in urging the Treasurer to perform his duty as the Chairman of the Bond Commission and sign the official statement.  Without this new funding, we will not be able to begin work on hundreds of approved projects. And projects that are already in progress will be in danger of being frozen in January. 
 
Sincerely,
 
Kristy Nichols, Commissioner of Administration 
10/16/2014
State Bond Commission Approves $143 Million for Local Projects

BATON ROUGE, LA - The State Bond Commission approved $143 million for projects statewide and saved taxpayers more than $18 million at its Oct. 16 meeting, according to State Treasurer John Kennedy.

 

"We approved funding that will repair schools, improve drinking water and enhance health care infrastructure, among other projects," said Treasurer Kennedy. "We also continue to save money on interest."

 

Among the individual projects approved were:

 

  • West Baton Rouge Parish, $250,000 in Certificates of Indebtedness, Series 2014, not exceeding 6%, not exceeding 10 years for the West Baton Rouge Convention and Visitors Bureau: for financing the cost of signage, lighting, equipment and other capital improvements and renovations to the West Baton Rouge Tourist Information and Conference Center.
  • West Carroll Parish, $1,534,000 Letter of Credit, not exceeding 6%, not exceeding 1 year, for the West Carroll Parish Police Jury: for satisfying DEQ's financial assurance requirements for the payment of closure costs for the landfill and incurring debt to the extent funds are drawn from the Letter of Credit.
  • Acadia Parish, $7,358,000 in Taxable Limited Tax Revenue Bonds (Qualified Zone Academy Bond), Series 2014, not exceeding 1%, not exceeding 17 years for the Acadia Parish School Board: for rehabilitating, repairing and equipping schools.
  • Ascension Parish, $2,500,000 in Taxable Sewer Revenue Bonds, in one or more series, not exceeding 0.95%, not exceeding 22 years, for the city of Donaldsonville: for constructing and acquiring improvements and extensions to the sanitary sewage collection and disposal system, including all necessary land, equipment and furnishings and all engineering, legal and other incidentals costs and fees.
  • Ascension Parish, $15,170,000 Taxable Sales Tax Bonds, in one or more series, not exceeding 0.95%, not exceeding 20 years, for the city of Gonzales: for acquisition, construction and improvements, extensions and replacements to the wastewater treatment and disposal system, including acquisition and construction of new collection systems and a treatment plant
  •  Avoyelles Parish, $2,100,000 in Taxable Water Revenue Bonds, not exceeding 3.45%, not exceeding 22 years for Waterworks District No. 1, for: constructing and acquiring additions, extensions and improvements to the drinking water system, including equipment and fixtures.
  • Caddo Parish, $75,000,000 in Water and Sewer Revenue Bonds, in one or more series, not exceeding 6%, not exceeding 25 years, for the city of Shreveport: for acquisition and construction of improvements, extensions and replacements to the combined revenue producing water and sewer utility system.
  • Lafayette Parish, $4,200,000 in Sales Tax Bonds, in one or more series, not exceeding 5%, not exceeding 15 years, for the city of Carencro: for capital improvements and funding a reserve fund
  • Union Parish, $255,000 in Water Revenue Bonds, in one or more series, not exceeding 3.45%, not exceeding 22 years, for the town of Bernice: for acquiring and constructing additions, extensions, and improvements to the drinking water system, including equipment and fixtures.
  • Jefferson Parish, $25,000,000 in Multifamily Housing Revenue Bonds, in one or more series, not exceeding 8%, not exceeding 40 years, for the Louisiana Community Development Authority, Tanglewood Apartments Project: for acquisition, rehabilitation, and equipping of a 384 unit multifamily housing complex located in Westwego.
  • Calcasieu Parish$10,000,000 in Hospital Revenue Bonds, Series 2015, not exceeding 6%, not exceeding 15 years, for the Calcasieu Parish Public Trust Authority, Lake Charles Memorial Hospital Project: for acquisition, construction, renovation and equipping of hospital facilities. 

Likewise, the commission approved more than $18 million in savings by refinancing existing debt. The savings were:


  • Ascension Parish, $1,600,000 in Revenue Refunding Bonds, in one or more series, not exceeding 5%, mature no later than August 1, 2035, for Fire Protection District No. 1, for refunding Revenue Bonds, Series 2005: saving taxpayers $64,800.
  • Caddo Parish, $27,500,000 in General Obligation Refunding Bonds, in one or more series, not exceeding 5%, not exceeding 5 years, refunding all or a portion of General Obligation Refunding Bonds, Series 2005A, for the city of Shreveport: saving taxpayers, $3.6 million. 
  • Caddo Parish, $76,700,000 in Water and Sewer Revenue Refunding Bonds, in one or more series, not exceeding 5.5%, not exceeding 21 years, refunding all or a portion of Water and Sewer Revenue Bonds, Series 2001A, 2001B, 2001C, 2002A, 2002B, 2003A, 2003B, 2004A, LCDA Revenue Bonds, Series 2007 and LCDA Utility Revenue Bonds, Series 2010C for the city of Shreveport: saving taxpayers $3.8 million. 
  • Orleans Parish, - $80,000,000 in Special Tax Refunding Bonds, Series 2014, not exceeding 5%, mature no later than July 15, 2025, for the Ernest N. Morial - New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority for refunding Senior Subordinate Special Tax Refunding Bonds, Series 2004, saving taxpayers $10.6 million.

The Louisiana State Bond Commission meets monthly to review and approve applications from parishes, municipalities, special taxing districts, and other political subdivisions of the State requesting authority to incur debt. For more information, visit www.LATreasury.com.

 Opinion Columns

10/22/2014
Plain Talk On The OGB Health Plan Mess

Newly discovered information is drawing back the curtain on the real reasons for sweeping health plan changes that will impact 230,000 state workers, teachers and retirees.  As someone who is concerned about the state’s deeply flawed budget practices, I’m asking legislators and the legislative auditor to get involved in order to prevent burdening our Louisiana families with what is tantamount to a detrimental tax increase. Get involved now. Get involved before it’s too late. 

At issue is the state Office of Group Benefits, which provides health insurance to thousands of current and retired state workers, schoolteachers and their spouses and children. For years, the office operated smoothly, building up $525 million in reserves while offering fair health plans.  

Things changed when the state encountered budget problems. Instead of tightening its belt, the state helped itself to the reserves.  OGB is not a government giveaway program.  State workers’ dollars helped build up the fund balance.   The money shouldn’t be stolen from them – and, to be clear, it is being stolen from them.

How the state took the money involves a sleight-of-hand budget trick at which most accountants would shudder.  Heck, even Bernie Madoff would shudder.  Like other employers, the state pays 75 percent of an employee’s plan premium.  In 2013 and 2014, the state intentionally – and recklessly – lowered premiums to decrease the amount of money the state had to put up so it could use the money to balance the state’s budget.  Because of the lower premiums, OGB burned through its reserves.  Now changes have to be made in order to save a ship that was deliberately steered into an iceberg.

State employees, retirees and schoolteachers will have higher deductibles and fewer benefits. That amounts to a virtual tax increase for Louisiana families.

This wasn’t supposed to happen.  In 2011, then-Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater assured taxpayers OGB’s surplus would not be “stolen” (his words) or diverted to balance the budget.  A few years later, current Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said keeping hundreds of millions locked up in a reserve fund isn’t smart.  It’s not smart for whom?

The state initially claimed it dropped premiums on the advice of its actuary.  Here’s the problem: There’s always a pesky paper trail. The actuary, Buck Consultants, wrote a report, saying it didn’t recommend either decrease.  Buck’s take was that the state deliberately set premium rates “artificially low to draw down the OGB’s reserve fund.”

Now the state is suggesting that the crucial rate recommendations by Buck may be in a bureaucrat’s email inbox somewhere.  The state’s “looking” for the elusive emails.

It’s clear that the premium reductions were a political decision made in a political environment to free up money to balance the budget.  By spurning its million-dollar actuary’s advice, the Office of the Commission jeopardized the stability of state health plans.

Now the Office of the Commissioner has made another political decision to replenish the fund balance by reducing benefits instead of increasing premiums.  Remember increasing premiums would force the employer – in this case, the state – to put up additional dollars.  Instead, the state is socking this solely to families.

The arrangement makes one thing abundantly apparent: A single appointed bureaucrat has far too much power over something that impacts a quarter of a million people. We need long term reform.  Short term, plan members should be given the option to absorb premium increases instead of just reduced benefits.  That’s how we handle the retirement systems for pensions. Is health care any less important?

Look, I’ll put my small government credentials up against anyone’s.  This is not about the size of government.  This is not an entitlement program.  State employees put their trust – and their money – into a system that was supposed to safeguard their health insurance.  Their trust was misplaced to solve political budget problems.

It’s clear that legislators need to clean up this mess, and they need to do it immediately.  Ask the legislative auditor’s actuary to take a look at OGB’s plans.  Ask the Public Employees Retirement Systems’ Actuary Committee to assume control of OGB.

Health coverage is too important.  Let’s slow this down and get it right. We owe it to taxpayers. We owe it to the people whose lives are being affected.

10/10/2014
Why I Invest In Israel Bonds

Last year, I urged Louisiana taxpayers to scour their mutual fund portfolios for high-risk Puerto Rico bonds.  I didn't want college educations and retirements relying on Puerto Rico's shaky economy.

 

You won't find Puerto Rico bonds in the Louisiana Treasury's investment portfolio.  What you will find, though, are bonds embraced by Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Einstein and Harry S. Truman.

 

The Louisiana Treasury currently holds $18 million in Israel Bonds.  Those bonds earn 2.868 % when the 3-year U.S. Treasury is yielding 1.08 %. As State Treasurer, I invest in Israel Bonds for a few simple reasons: They are a safe, solid investment from a country with a sound economic future.  Unlike Puerto Rico bonds, you won't find Israel Bonds hovering above a "junk" level credit rating.  The credit rating on Israel Bonds is high.

 

But, first, a little history:  Israel Bonds' history involves the genius of Albert Einstein and the glitz of old Hollywood.

 

Israel became a nation in 1948 after it became a haven for Jews fleeing persecution elsewhere in the world.  The new nation quickly set about securing a financial foothold.  A conference at Jerusalem's King David Hotel in 1950 launched Israel Bonds.

 

Political figures and Hollywood elite embraced the bonds as an investment in Israel's security.  Roosevelt, Einstein, Truman, Elizabeth Taylor and Cary Grant jumped onboard.  Since 1951, more than $36 billion in Israel Bonds has been sold.  It's an astonishing success story.

 

Through the innovation of Israel Bonds, Israel quickly shed its training wheels as a newly formed nation.  Today Israel is an economic world leader.

 

As the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development wrote in its 2013 economic survey: "Israel's output growth remains relatively strong, unemployment is at historically low levels, its high-tech sector continues to attract international admiration, and new off-shore gas fields have come on stream.

 

U.S. investment in Israel is strong.  Google has had offices in Israel since 2006 and digitalized the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Eager to find a seat at the table in Israel's tech sector, Facebook snapped up a company in 2013 that had employees in Israel.  Johnson and Johnson partnered with Israel's Office of the Chief Scientist on a biotech incubator.  Hewlett Packard has labs atop Mount Carmel.

 

Economic development flows both ways.  The U.S. imports billions of dollars in goods each year from Israel.  The import list includes diamonds, pharmaceutical products, machinery and medical instruments. 

 

Like other peace-loving countries, Israel wrestles with the threat of terrorism.  This summer was particularly grizzly with the murders of three Israeli teenagers by militants.  By no means is the leadership of Israel a threat to peace.

 

Here's how the U.S. Secretary of State's Office sums up our nation's relationship with Israel: "The United States was the first country to recognize Israel as a state in 1948. Since then, Israel has become, and remains, America's most reliable partner in the Middle East. Israel and the United States are bound closely by historic and cultural ties as well as by mutual interests."
 

That - along with Israel Bonds' sold track record - is good enough for me. 

9/19/2014
Joe's Unclaimed Property Find

As state treasurer, I end up with countless dollars that flow into my office because businesses cannot locate people.  I get stock dividends, uncashed checks, abandoned checking accounts and unredeemed gift certificates.

 

If you toss a check into a drawer because it's only for a few dollars, the uncashed amount winds up in the state treasury.  If you move without leaving a forwarding address, your utility deposit refund winds up in the state treasury.  If your grandma forgets about that savings account she opened up for you when you were born, the money winds up in the state treasury.

 

This brings me to an important point: I either need a bigger safe or people need to claim their money.  We go to malls a few times a year and offer to plug people's names into our Unclaimed Property search engine. 

 

We advertise that roughly one in six people has Unclaimed Property.  Still, we have a staggering amount of cash that belongs to other people.   You hear so much about it that you tune it out - or you think that you keep a tighter hold on your pocketbook than Ebeneezer Scrooge.  So let me tell you a true story about "Joe."

 

Joe is a blue collar worker in Monroe with six kids and a house that is tumbling down around him.  He's a hard worker who takes odd jobs when he can get them.  Still, he struggles to pay his bills, and there's never enough extra to keep up his home.

 

Years ago, Joe worked for a well-known national company.  He got stock options that ended when his employment did.  Joe moved on without cashing out his stock.  He didn't leave a forwarding address. 

 

Fast forward a few years.  A private company sends Joe a letter offering to help retrieve money from the state treasury for him in exchange for a finder's fee.  It turns out that Joe has Unclaimed Property. 

 

Fortunately, Joe had the good sense to hand the letter from the private company to a friend.  The friend just happened to know State District Court Judge Scott Leehy.  Leehy immediately suspected that the letter referred to Unclaimed Property in the state treasury.  He did a little research and found out that Joe has more than $30,000 in dividends, not including half a million dollars in stock.

 

"He had no clue that he had anything," Leehy said.  "This is the nicest man.  He's poor, but he has a lot of pride.  He's a great family man."

 

With Leehy's help, Joe filed a claim for the $30,000 in dividends.  That claim helped us unearth the half a million in stocks as well.

 

Joe worked for this money.  He earned it.  Last week, I signed a check releasing the money to him.  I was glad to do it.

 

You would be surprised by how much in Unclaimed Property ends up in the state treasury.  I recently wrote an even bigger check to a man in the Acadiana region.  He is a businessman who had $100,000 in unclaimed property.

 

More than $600 million in Unclaimed Property currently is in the state treasury. The money includes old bank accounts, deposits, inheritances and stock dividends.  Searching for the money simply requires logging onto www.LATreasury.com or calling 1-(888)-925-4127.

 

It's free to search for Unclaimed Property and claim it.  Let me repeat that. It's free - completely free - to search for it and claim it. It's your money; it's not our money although a few businesses want to do the work for you and take a cut.

 

You have better odds of finding money in the state treasury than you do of winning the lottery.

 

Just ask Joe.
Contact Us Privacy Policy