The Coastal Trust Fund is a constitutionally protected trust fund that finances projects and programs that preserve and restore Louisiana’s coastal area. The state Constitution requires that money placed into the fund be spent on projects in—or be “not inconsistent with”—the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan (more details in chapter 3). The Coastal Trust Fund receives money from state mineral revenues, the federal government, various settlements related to the BP oil spill, and other sources. These funds are made available to the CPRA for “the purposes of integrated coastal protection, including but not limited to, coastal wetlands conservation, coastal restoration, hurricane protection, or for infrastructure directly impacted by coastal wetlands losses.”
Though the coastal fund is protected in the Louisiana state constitution, if the state budget experiences a mid-year budget deficit, it can trigger a potential drawdown of a small portion of the Coastal Trust Fund (and other state dedicated funds). Though the funds are otherwise protected and dedicated, the law allows a rededication of five percent to balance a mid-year statewide budget deficit. The Governor can request up to five percent, and the legislature would then vote to approve or deny the request.
On the plus side, when a state budget surplus exists, the Coastal Trust Fund is one of only a handful of funds (including the “Rainy Day” Fund, Retirement, and Transportation Trust Fund) that may receive surplus dollars. Surplus dollars are considered non-recurring—or “one-time” revenue—that may not be used to bolster the general operating budget. Surplus dollars directed to the Coastal Trust Fund allow the CPRA to speed up the implementation of projects from the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan.