By State Treasurer John M. Schroder

One of the first things I noticed when traveling the state talking to people about the Treasurer’s Office is that many people across Louisiana weren’t exactly clear about the Treasury’s role in state government. They knew a lot about the person holding the office and about the Unclaimed Property program, but that was about it.

In the next few columns, I am going to open up the Treasury and pick a different division to highlight. I’m going to dive into the Treasury’s Investments Division first, because it plays a key role in state government operations.

The Investments Division is made up of four investment professionals with extensive experience both in banks and investment firms. This small team of professionals effectively manages over $6 billion in total investments.

At any given time, about $3 billion can be found in short-term investments in the state’s central depository account. The account is part of the General Fund where the bulk of the state’s $29 billion budget passes through before heading out to various agencies. Monies that flow into the account include federal funds, state tax revenues and self-generated funds.

The Investments Division is responsible for the cash management of the state’s central depository account. This includes investing excess cash at the end of the day or liquidating certain investments if necessary to provide enough cash to cover that day’s payments. In short, the Division of Administration is responsible for paying the bills, but the Treasury must ensure there is enough money in the state’s checking account to do so.

The Treasury’s Investments Division also manages approximately $3 billion in long-term trust fund investments. This includes the Millennium Trust Fund for TOPS scholarships and the Kevin P. Reilly, Sr. Louisiana Education Quality Trust Fund for K-12 and higher education. The Division oversees investments in the state’s START 529 college savings plan and manages the state’s guaranteed portion of that plan.

Finally, the Investments Division operates BidLouisiana, which is the state’s online auction platform for certificates of deposit (CDs). The Treasury uses BidLouisiana to offer CDs to banks and credit unions across the state. The program provides a reliable funding source at competitive rates, and enables financial institutions to lend money to citizens and businesses in every corner of the state. BidLouisiana is especially beneficial to rural banks that normally wouldn’t have access to these types of funds.

I’ve just scratched the surface on some of the many things our Investments Division does for Louisiana taxpayers. The Division will continue to safeguard taxpayer dollars by overseeing cash management; managing trust fund investments; and making CDs available to banks across Louisiana. I hope this column was able to shine some light on the important work of the Investments Division. Be sure to check with us next month to learn more about the Treasury’s core functions and mission.