Judge approves tobacco bond sale
A judge approved the sale Tuesday of tobacco settlement bonds to give Louisiana up to $1.5 billion in immediate cash.
State District Judge Mike McDonald signed a judgment declaring the bonds sale legal.
The state Bond Commission gave approval last week to a deal in which the state will pledge about $2.4 billion in long-term tobacco settlement cash to pay off a major bond is-sue. Louisiana is one of 46 states and several U.S. territories sharing in a long-term settlement of lawsuits over the public cost of treating tobacco-related illnesses. The state is expected to receive a little more than $4 billion over the coming 25 years spread out in payments of about $150 million a year.
Early this year, the Legis-lature approved a complex plan for turning a portion of the state's annual stream of tobacco-settlement payments into immediate cash. The state is giving 60 percent of the annual tobacco revenue to a nonprofit Tobacco Settlement Financing Corp. The nonprofit corporation, in turn, will sell $1.2 billion in long-term bonds, pledging $2.4 billion in tobacco money to pay off the bonds over the next 20 years.