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|State Sells $189 Million in Bonds for Road and State Building Projects|
BATON ROUGE, LA – The State Bond Commission held a special meeting today to hold a competitive sale of $189 million in General Obligation (GO) bonds, the proceeds of which will pay for various roads, buildings and higher education projects, according to State Treasurer Ron Henson.
“Today we received nine bids from Wall Street investment banks, each of which demonstrated a real interest in investing in Louisiana municipal bonds,” said Treasurer Henson. “These bids were favorable even in the light of recent market adjustments and the Street’s recent downgrade in Louisiana’s bond rating.”
All three rating agencies have downgraded the state’s bond rating over the past two years. Louisiana’s budget struggles and supporting revenue problems were factors in the downgrades.
The state’s bond rating is similar to an individual’s credit rating. A better rating makes it less expensive for the state to borrow money to pay for projects.
Louisiana typically holds one or two large GO bond sales a year to fund projects the Legislature approves in the capital outlay budget. The state issues bonds to investors who loan the cash up front to fund the projects. Bank of America/Merrill Lynch had the winning bid today with a true interest cost to the state of 3.445 percent.
Today’s bond sale was the second time the state used a new approach where all bond proceeds are used for capital projects. Previously, a portion of the bond proceeds was used to pay interest during the first year after the bond sale. This had the effect of the state paying interest on top of interest for the next 20 years, a practice the state no longer follows.
|State Treasurer Ron Henson Announces Staff Appointments|
BATON ROUGE, LA -- Today, State Treasurer Ron Henson announced three new staff appointments in his administration. The appointments include:
Thomas Enright, Jr. - First Assistant State Treasurer
Lynnel Ruckert - Assistant Treasurer
Sarah Mulhearn - Communications Director
Thomas Enright, Jr. - First Assistant State Treasurer
Thomas is a 20-year state government veteran who was appointed as the Treasury's First Assistant State Treasurer after serving at the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs and for three years as Executive Counsel to former Gov. Bobby Jindal. He previously served as Executive Counsel of the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and as Deputy Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs. Thomas also served in the Louisiana Attorney General's Office as an Assistant Attorney General where he enforced the terms of the Master Settlement Agreement against the major tobacco manufacturers and was designated as the primary attorney in charge of the Attorney General's Veterans Rights Section.
After serving his country in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1987-1991, Thomas graduated from Louisiana State University with a Bachelor's degree in Economics and finished Louisiana State University Law School in 1997. In 2009, he retired from the Army Reserve at the rank of Major with 22 years of military service. He has three children aged 17, 15 and 10 and is married to Virginia Middleton Enright, of Baton Rouge.
Lynnel Ruckert - Assistant Treasurer
Lynnel spent 15 years in Washington D.C. working on Capitol Hill for Louisiana Members of Congress - most recently as Chief of Staff for Majority Whip Steve Scalise. She served as Scalise's chief since his election in 2008 and managed his campaign for Whip, Republican Study Chair, and for his seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee. Lynnel also worked for former Gov. Bobby Jindal and former U.S. Sen. David Vitter when they served in the House of Representatives and for former Rep. Billy Tauzin when he was Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Lynnel has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Louisiana in Monroe. She and her husband Kyle moved to Baton Rouge in 2016 with their two children Jack and Mary Kyle. She is a member of the 2017 Baton Rouge Chamber Leadership class, is a Girl Scout Troop Leader, and serves on the St. Aloysius Church Fair Committee.
Sarah Mulhearn - Communications Director
Sarah is a 16-year state government veteran who has spent most of her career as Press Secretary for the Louisiana State Treasurer's Office. She has also held various communication and outreach positions at the Louisiana Department of Education, Louisiana Housing Corporation and Louisiana Workforce Commission.
Sarah holds a Master's degree in Mass Communication (Corporate and Governmental Communication) from Louisiana State University, a Bachelor's degree in Speech Communication from Louisiana Tech University and has studied British Political Communication in London. She is the marketing chair for the St. Jude Baton Rouge 2017 walk/run, has served on the Louisiana Women's Policy and Research Commission, and is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Baton Rouge. She lives in Brusly with her husband Patrick and two boys Jack and Owen.
The appointments announced today round out the Treasury team following U.S. Sen. John Kennedy's election to the Senate. Other Treasury appointees remaining on board include Chief Investments Officer John Broussard, State Bond Commission Director Lela Folse, Deputy State Treasurer Renee Roberie, and Confidential Assistant Desie Thymes Mack.
|Treasurer Ron Henson Announces $77.1 Million in Bond Commission Approvals|
BATON ROUGE, LA - The State Bond Commission approved $77.1 million for projects statewide and $10.8 million in interest savings today, according to State Treasurer Ron Henson.
"Local governments will be able to continue to provide a variety of public services because of this funding," said Treasurer Henson. "One example is a community disaster loan for a Baton Rouge fire station impacted by the August flooding. The station will be able to use this loan to continue providing fire protection services."
Among the individual projects approved were:
Avoyelles Parish: $1 million in Limited Tax Certificates of Indebtedness for the Avoyelles Parish Police Jury, Road District No. 2 for constructing and improving streets, bridges, and drainage, and for purchasing equipment.
Bossier Parish: $500,000 in Limited Tax Certificates of Indebtedness for the Northeast Bossier Fire Protection District No. 5: for acquiring, constructing and improving fire protection and emergency medical service facilities and equipment.
East Baton Rouge Parish: $355,125 in Revenue Anticipation Notes (Community Disaster Loan) for operating costs related to the August flooding.
Louisiana Housing Corporation: $30 million in Single Family Mortgage Revenue Refunding Bonds: resulting in $10.8 million in gross savings.
Orleans Parish: $34.25 million in Federal New Market Tax Credits and related financing to rehab Booker T. Washington school and transition it to a charter school.
St. Charles Parish: $8 million in Taxable Limited Tax Bonds for the St. Charles Parish Council's DEQ Project: for improving wastewater facilities and systems including those owned by Consolidated Waterworks and Wastewater District No. 1.
West Baton Rouge Parish: $3 million in Taxable Sewer Revenue Bonds (DEQ Project) for the Town of Addis for sewage system improvements.
The Bond Commission will hold a General Obligation bond sale on Wednesday, March 22. Its next regular meeting will be held April 20.
|We Continue To Have A Spending Problem|
If your car breaks down every Monday, eventually you're going to do one of two things. You're going to get a new mechanic or a new car.
Louisiana's state budget is a lot like a car that breaks down on a regular basis. For some time now, every December or January, a huge shortfall emerges that has to be fixed. If you have a kid on TOPS, then you're already suffering the consequences of the state's inability to manage its money. You just wrote a fat check for your kid's tuition because the state came up short. Merry Christmas to you.
So it's no huge surprise the state has yet another deficit - this time $600 million. It's obvious that we need to make changes, starting with eliminating the hypocrisy from the state budgeting process.
The real question is how in the world does the state not have enough money? Taxes are sky high after the largest tax increase in Louisiana's history. The state's not really paying for TOPS scholarships; parents are. And, in November, state revenue was up 27% over last year.
A couple of things are going on.
First, the state isn't hitting the mark on how much money we can expect to receive each year. Since the state budget is built on those projections, it's costly when we get it wrong.
Basically, we're being too optimistic about how much money the state is going to bring in. We're being too optimistic year after year after year. You'd think we'd get the idea eventually that we're not going to find an oil field underneath the State Capitol every other week - or wherever it is we think we're going to get all this money.
Second, the state spends money like crazy. New cars are purchased. Pay raises are given - not to the worker bees, mind you, but to the top brass. More people are added to Medicaid.
The truth is that the state is simply not living within its means. It is spending more than it takes in and letting our taxpayers handle the consequences.
As state treasurer, I like to look at numbers. Numbers don't lie. So I pulled the budget for the state's Division of Administration. The Division of Administration manages the daily operations of state government, operates as the state's accountant and works directly for the Governor.
The Division's budget was $147 million in 2005. It now stands at $395 million. That's a $248 million, or 169% increase, over 12 years. That's a 14% increase per year on average. Has your income gone up 14% a year each year for the last 12 years? (In case you are wondering, the Department of the Treasury's budget increased only 2.6% annually over the same period of time).
No one's really reducing their spending at the State Capitol except for a dip or two from time to time. Meanwhile, the Pew Research Center tells us that real wages (income with inflation factored in) have largely been flat for 20 years.
Instead, the state's relying on foolish tricks and gimmicks to limp along. The state cuts higher education to the bone but allows health care costs to balloon. The Legislature gives lip service to reducing consulting contracts but refuses to pass a bill that would allow the Legislature to reject them. More often than not, the top brass get pay raises while forcing our rank-and-file state workers to get by with the same paycheck every year.
The Division of Administration, which handles the budget for the Governor, can't even cut its own budget.
We can do better. We must do better. Our taxpayers deserve it. We can't keep driving a car that breaks down every Monday.
|Don't Forget To Search For Unclaimed Property|
As hard as it is to believe, another Christmas is upon us. It's a joyous time, but it's also expensive - especially if you have kids. I'm not sure what a Hatchimal is; I do know it will set Santa back quite a few dollars if your kid wants one under the tree this year.
The holidays cause us to empty our wallets and run up our credit card bills. If you're trying to figure out how to pay the bill collector, run your name through our Unclaimed Property search engine. You have better odds of finding money there than you do of winning the lottery.
Since I became State Treasurer 16 years ago, we've returned $315 million in Unclaimed Property to Louisiana citizens and businesses. We've collected $860 million in Unclaimed Property during that same timeframe.
Unclaimed Property isn't land. It's money. When businesses can't find you, they send the money to us. We hold onto it until you claim it. We get life insurance proceeds, utility deposits, old bank accounts, stocks, dividends, savings bonds and more. The only thing we don't get is your great aunt's jewelry.
I've returned money to celebrities like Archie Manning and John Goodman. I've also returned money to ordinary citizens who really needed the cash. It's the stories of the ordinary citizens that will stay with me.
Years ago, we got in a life insurance policy for a young widow in north Louisiana. Her husband had died, leaving her with small children to rear. She didn't know he'd also left her $500,000 in life insurance proceeds until we tracked her down.
Earlier this year, we returned more than $2 million in Unclaimed Property to a 96-year-old woman in the New Orleans area. That money will be used to ensure that she has around-the-clock care for the rest of her life.
Now I don't have $2 million or even $500,000 for everyone in Louisiana. The average refund is about $900.
Just last week, I sent a check for $12,500 to the Jefferson SPCA. This organization, which supports the Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter's two locations, lost track of stocks and dividends following Hurricane Katrina. The money we returned to the SPCA will be used to treat animals for heartworms and other medical issues. The treatment is expensive, and this will give the animals a better chance of being adopted. As an animal lover, I couldn't be more thrilled at that outcome.
Unclaimed Property is a terrific program, and there are no strings attached. It's absolutely free to claim this money. All we care about is whether the money belongs to you.
Visit our website at www.latreasury.com or give us a call at 1-888-925-4127. You might just find enough money to buy a Hatchimal.
|Do You Have Unclaimed Property? It's Very Likely|
In her 96 years, Metairie native "Marjorie Summers" (not her real name) has lived through the Great Depression, World War II, the Kennedy assassination, Watergate and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Cars had a running board and a rumble seat back when Marjorie was born. Now we're test driving cars that literally drive themselves.
A lot has changed in nearly a century. It's not surprising that Marjorie would lose track of a few things along the years. In fact, I just returned more than $2 million in Unclaimed Property to her.
Marjorie's experience is both common and uncommon - and let me explain what I mean by that.
Roughly one in six individuals has Unclaimed Property in the Louisiana Treasury. That means it's very likely that you or your mom, aunt, cousin, sister, brother or childhood best friend has lost money that has been turned over to the state. It's probably just not $2 million.
The average refund is $900. That's not enough to buy a place in Hawaii, but it will certainly buy lots of groceries.
Every day, we get in payroll checks, tax refunds, life insurance proceeds, utility deposits and much more. We put it in the Treasury, and we hold onto it until it's claimed.
Insurance salesman used to go door to door peddling their policies. Your grandmother might have purchased one and forgotten to tell you. The proceeds could be in the Treasury.
A computer hiccup could corrupt your address on a mailing label. If the postman can't deliver a check to you, it comes to us.
We received unredeemed savings bonds last year totaling nearly $500,000. Some of them date to the 1940s and 1950s. The folks who bought them might not be alive still, but their heirs are.
Other times, money finds its way to us because of forgetfulness. That's what happened with Marjorie.
The Great Depression of the 1930s impressed upon Marjorie the importance of saving money. Her father lost his job, causing his family to struggle financially. All these years later, Marjorie remembers her mother fretting and worrying about the tough economic times.
Marjorie was a good steward of her finances; she just struggled with the bookkeeping as she aged. She started dumping her mail, still unopened, into boxes. When you don't open your mail, you tend to accumulate Unclaimed Property.
Fortunately, concerned friends enlisted the help of a personal trustee who sorted through Marjorie's 18 boxes of unopened mail and searched the Unclaimed Property database. The trustee found more than $500,000 in cash and $1.6 million in stock assets.
Marjorie's Unclaimed Property was one of the largest in our department's history. I was happy to return it to her.
It's absolutely free to search for Unclaimed Property. It's even free to claim it. Visit www.LATreasury.com to find our search engine. You can also give us a call at 1-888-925-4127. You never know what you might discover.