The Millennium Fund, despite its name, has nothing to do with spaceships, Star Wars or Han Solo. It has not been accruing interest for a millennium, nor do we have to wait until a thousand years to spend it. The Millennium Fund got it name simply by being created in the year 2000.
Where does it come from?
The fund arose from a lawsuit between the largest tobacco manufacturers in the country and 46 states, including Idaho. This lawsuit resulted in a Master Settlement Agreement with these states. Under the agreement, Idaho is scheduled to receive a total of approximately $790 million from tobacco companies by the time payments cease in 2025.
How does it work?
In accordance with a 2006 voter-approved amendment to the state constitution, Idaho divides its tobacco settlement money into two funds. 80% of settlement payments are allocated to a permanent endowment which the Idaho State Treasurer invests. It is the intended that the endowment will provide distributions to the state in perpetuity. The other 20% funds grants selected by a legislative committee.
What is it used for?
By the committee’s decision, funds can only be used for programs and projects directly related to tobacco or substance abuse cessation or prevention, or tobacco or substance abuse related health treatment.
In Fiscal Year 2017, the Idaho Legislature appropriated $9.58 million from the Millennium Income Fund including:
- $2.7 million to the Department of Health and Welfare for Project Filter
- $1.86 million to the Department of Corrections for substance abuse treatment services
- $398,400 to the University of Idaho for an awareness program on electronic nicotine devices
- $1.06 million to the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections for youth prevention and cessation programs
- $750,000 to Public Health Districts for tobacco cessation programs
So the Millennium Fund does a lot of great things for Idaho. Just don’t expect it to make the Kessel Run in 12 Parsecs.