Saving money is a way an individual can build a nest egg to prepare for unexpected emergencies or ensure that there’s enough money to pay for future expenses. There are countless ways an individual can save money ranging from investing in stocks to starting a savings account, and there are a number of vehicles to choose from like IRAs, mutual funds or trust funds.

Louisiana maintains various savings accounts for emergencies, to prepare for unanticipated expenses, and for the continuation of important programs. The state puts its most important savings into trust funds to safeguard its principal and carefully make money over the long haul. The state has roughly $3 billion in trust, and the income is dedicated to healthcare and education costs.

The fiscal year-end numbers are in for the state’s three major trust funds, and their combined earnings topped $137 million. While other state’s are spending money right and left, incurring record deficits and dragging their bond ratings into the mud, Louisiana is saving its money and protecting it for the future. We have succeeded at making this money work for Louisiana citizens. Even with a shaky investment market, we were able to see overall positive growth and good returns on our trust funds.

Louisiana Education Quality Trust Fund (LEQTF)

The LEQTF’s market value this fiscal year was $952.7 million, up from $888 million the year before. The target for this fund continues to be the $1 billion mark, and we are not very far off from achieving our goal. The funds total rate of return was 10.64 percent compared to 1.4 percent last fiscal year. Investment earnings for the LEQTF totaled $49.5 million, the proceeds of which will benefit BESE and Board of Regents education projects.

Millennium Trust Fund

FY 2003 was the first full year of earnings reported for the Millennium Trust, and the funds market value has increased from $965.8 million to $1.1 billion. Income earned on the fund totaled $39.1 million this fiscal year, and the funds cash basis rate of return was 4.36 percent. The Treasury created the Millennium Trust in 2001, when the state sold 60 percent of its tobacco settlement and dedicated the proceeds to healthcare, education and the TOPS scholarship program.

Medicaid Trust Fund for the Elderly

The Medicaid Trust earned $48.4 million in income in FY 2003 and had a cash basis rate of return of 5.37 percent. The market value of the fund was $909.2 million this fiscal year compared to $777.8 million the prior year. The state uses interest earnings on the Medicaid Trust to provide funding for elderly healthcare and nursing home expenses.

We are working hard to steadily increase all of our trust funds over time, and our investment performance this fiscal year reflects a huge success. Our funds are well diversified and protected. Citizens should feel confident that taxpayer dollars will continue to grow as safely as possible. The state is managing its savings wisely for our benefit today and for our children and grand children’s benefit tomorrow.

For more information on state trust funds or investments, visit www.latreasury.com.