Louisiana governor pushing to sell tobacco settlement for upfront cash; treasurer disagrees

BATON ROUGE, La. – Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration is moving ahead with a plan to sell the state’s remaining share of a massive tobacco settlement, despite criticism the move would waste a valuable asset for a quick fix to budget problems.

A board that oversees the settlement agreed to the idea Monday, though several more approvals would be needed before any sale.

Treasurer John Kennedy objected, saying Jindal’s plan is driven by desperation to find money for a budget awash in red ink.

Jindal and lawmakers have repeatedly plugged budget holes with short-term financing, creating continued shortfalls.

Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols says the administration proposal doesn’t involve a one-year cash infusion, but $750 million that could be spent over eight years to pay for Louisiana’s free college tuition program.