State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt sent me some numbers this morning for North Dakota’s Legacy Fund, in which her office will be making another deposit later today. A total of $79,273,665.40 is being deposited into the Legacy Fund for February.
The balance for the fund is at $841,777,629.66. This chart shows the growth in the fund since the first deposit in September of 2011:
The fund continues to accumulate money, and to date state leaders haven’t really figured out a long-term investment strategy. The legislature won’t be able to spend the dollars until 2017, but the amendment to the state constitution mandating the fund states “The state investment board shall invest the principal of the North Dakota legacy fund.”
Right now the funds aren’t invested very aggressively. According to the most recent report from the State Investment Board, the fund has earned a 1.13% rate of return in the 2013 fiscal year through the end of December.
You really have to question the wisdom of taking so much money out of the private sector to have it sitting around in state government doing so little. Those funds could be invested in bonding public works projects in the state (I wrote about that here), removing the pressure to pay for those projects up front and freeing up funds for substantial tax relief, but I guess our elected leaders would rather to do nothing with the money than something.