When I was first elected to the job of State Treasurer a year ago, one of my goals was to educate the public about the many different functions of the Treasurer’s Office. I’ve written several columns for the LMA about Treasury’s divisions and the job we perform for Louisiana taxpayers. I’d like to close out the year with a recap of what our various divisions have accomplished in 2018.
Here are some of the highlights:
- Restructured the state’s banking agreement to save state agencies $250,000 this fiscal year and $1.8 million over five years.
- Processed 11.4 million deposit items and 72,098 credit items, resulting in a cash flow of over $40.7 billion.
- Improved the state’s cash interfund borrowing position to -$543.7 million as of November 30 compared to -$931.5 million this time last year, eliminating the need for mid-year financing with Revenue Anticipation Notes (RANs).
- Continued to manage fixed-income investments in the START 529 program. The program closed out the year with $873 million in total investments.
- Managed state trust fund investments, which now total $3.1 billion.
- Launched the LA-ABLE Program with the Board of Regents to help Louisiana families save for disability-related expenses. LA-ABLE closed out the year with $448,514 in total investments.
Unclaimed Property (Unclaimed Money)
- Returned $18 million in unclaimed money by the end of November compared to $10 million this time last year.
- Partnered with the Department of Revenue to update Treasury’s address database, which will result in the mailing of 83,000 checks totaling $20 million by the end of December 2018.
- Implemented a Fast Track online claims system to make it easier than ever before for citizens to claim their unclaimed money. Many claims now qualify for Fast Track and are paid immediately.
- Returned the largest single amount of unclaimed money ($2.3 million) ever in the Treasury’s history.
- Supported federal efforts to release billions of dollars in unclaimed retirement benefits to state Unclaimed Property offices so we could return this money to Louisiana citizens.
- Launched an online transparency portal for capital outlay information so the public can see how the Legislature appropriates construction dollars.
- Worked with other state partners and the Legislature to improve the outlook on the state’s credit rating. Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s both raised the outlook on the state’s credit from Negative to Stable.
- Managed 44 bond issues, paid $582 million in debt service payments on time, and made $11.64 million in interest rate swap payments.
- Reviewed 223 debt issuance applications totaling $4.9 billion and 237 local government elections.
The Treasury also worked with several lawmakers this year on a variety of good government bills. One major success was our partnership with a variety of organizations to help pass Louisiana checkbook legislation. A broad coalition of public and private partners supported this effort to improve transparency and provide taxpayers with more detailed information about state government spending.
Legislation to set up a revolving loan bank for local governments to fund infrastructure projects passed the Legislature, but was vetoed by the Governor. We are working to bring this bill up again in the future. I also want to work with lawmakers to keep the conversation going about capital outlay and pension reform.
We’ve compiled a solid list of accomplishments this year, but there is still much more to do. Rest assured we will continue to do the best job possible. After all, we report to you – Louisiana taxpayers – and we take this very seriously.