For more than a year now, the Louisiana Department of the Treasury has been traveling down a path to what I hope will be one of the greatest success stories in our state’s history the sale of 60 percent of Louisianas multi-billion dollar tobacco settlement. It hasnt always been the easiest road, and the journey took different twists and turns before we reached our destination. Ultimately, it was worth the trip.

On November 7, 2001, the state deposited more than $1 billion in proceeds from its tobacco sale. More than $917 million of this will go into the Millennium Trust Fund to benefit healthcare, education and the TOPS scholarship program. This money can never be touched. Not by the Legislature, not by the Governor, and not by the Treasurer. It will always be there for our kids and grandkids; it will also be there for their kids and grandkids.

In addition to money placed in trust, Louisiana school boards will receive more than $101 million from the tobacco sale. Discussions have already begun on how this money can be used to develop a statewide early childhood education program for our children.

The state also put more than $103 million from the tobacco sale into a liquidity reserve as required by law. We will use this money to pay tobacco bonds more quickly, and the Millennium Trust Fund is entitled to get this money back with interest after the bonds are paid.

One highlight of the tobacco sale that I am particularly proud of was our successful negotiation of lower underwriting and legal fees. Louisiana was able to conduct its bond sale for $1.15 per $1,000 bond less than South Carolina, which conducted a similarly sized tobacco sale. This savings translate to roughly $1.4 million for the state.

Only a few state’s went to market this year to conduct tobacco sales, and Louisiana made more money on the dollar than both South Carolina and Iowa did when they sold tobacco bonds. Louisiana earned 53 cents on the dollar during its sale of tobacco bonds, while South Carolina and Iowa both took in a little more than 50 cents each.

As you can see, the state has definitely taken the right route in protecting its tobacco monies for our children. I commend our Legislature, the Treasury, the Administration and all who went the distance to make this sale such a worthwhile trip.