1889 Institute analyzes TSET spending patterns
Published: December 22nd, 2015
OKLAHOMA CITY – The 1889 Institute, an Oklahoma state policy think tank, recently published a two-page fact sheet, “Oklahoma’s Billion-Dollar Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust,” discussing how states receive payments from tobacco companies.
The fact sheet, as described in a press release circulated this week, “briefly explains the history of the multi-state tobacco lawsuit and settlement, outlining the uses for which the tobacco settlement monies can be spent under a provision in the state’s constitution.”
“While it would take a vote of the people of Oklahoma to amend the state constitution for the currently $963 million corpus of the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) to be spent, the investment earnings can be spent on a variety of things,” said the fact sheet’s author Byron Schlomach.
One analyst who has followed TSET’s policy and spending patterns told CapitolBeatOK, “Of TSET’s roughly $963 million, the money is only being spent in a couple of the areas the constitution allows — namely on tobacco cessation and cancer research. Additional allowed uses include public education, after-school programs, and child health, among others.”
As summarized in the release, the 1889 Institute and its supporters believe, “While government endowment funds have their benefits, they also become susceptible to political pressures and cronyism and are not always used in the most efficient way.”
Schlomach said, “Thus far, the TSET’s board has apparently elected to spend the money on only a couple of the areas the constitution allows, namely on tobacco cessation and cancer research. Additional allowed uses include public education, after-school programs, and child health, among others.”
For more information regarding the critical analysis of Oklahoma’s Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, visit www.1889institute.org/fiscal-policy.html.
The 1889 Institute is a new Oklahoma think tank. In material sent to reporters, the group’s leaders are described as “committed to independent, principled state policy fostering limited and responsible government, free enterprise and a robust civil society.”