OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund now contains more than $1 billion with receipt of the state’s annual payment from the tobacco industry under the national Master Settlement Agreement, State Treasurer Ken Miller announced Tuesday.
The trust fund balance grew to $1.03 billion a when deposit of $57.6 million, or 75 percent of the annual payment, was completed this week as required by the Oklahoma Constitution. Oklahoma received a total payment of $76.9 million this year. With the latest receipts, the state has received $1.25 billion since payments began in 1999.
“Crossing the $1 billion threshold is an exciting milestone in our efforts to provide funding for the important work supported by the tobacco trust, including cancer research and fighting tobacco addiction,” said Miller, who chairs the trust fund’s board of investors.
“The fund is constitutionally created and protected to produce investment income to improve the quality of life of our people for generations to come, thanks to the statesmen who had the vision to propose its creation and the voters who wisely approved it.”
The Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund was created by a constitutional amendment in 2000, which specifies that only the earnings from the trust fund may be spent on programs to improve the health and well-being of Oklahomans.
More than $243 million in earnings have been certified since 2001, including $53.4 million last year. A board of investors chaired by the state treasurer oversees investments and certifies annual earnings, while a separately appointed board of directors has sole authority to decide how the earnings are spent.
The remaining $19.2 million of this year’s annual payment has been divided between a fund used for health care-related appropriations by the Legislature and the attorney general’s evidence fund.