The Norman Transcript

Opinion

April 19, 2013

A wise state investment

NORMAN — Oklahoma’s use of the Master Settlement funds from the 1996 tobacco lawsuit is a model for use in future trust fund cases.

Unlike other states, Oklahoma did not take a one-time payment. The state chose to receive the money over several years, and to date has received $1.04 billion.

Voters approved a lock box on the funds, making them available only to a tobacco settlement endowment fund, health care-related legislative appropriations and a state attorney general’s evidence fund.

That endowment now stands at more than $797 million, with about $151 million in earnings spent since 2001.

Some states took the money and have spent it with no restrictions. As tempting as that might have been years ago, Oklahomans made the right choice in parking the money for smoking cessation, tobacco cessation and other health expenses.

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