Louisiana State Capitol _lowres

ADVOCATE FILE PHOTO --- Louisiana's State Capitol, standing at 450 feet tall, is the tallest capitol in the United States.

PATRICK DENNIS

Louisiana assets managed by the Louisiana state Treasury fell by $2.4 billion in four years, as debt increased $1 billion during that time period, an audit has found.

The Louisiana Legislative Auditor's report found no wrongdoing on the state's part but determined that repeated sweeps of dedicated funds in recent years to shore up the state's day-to-day finances has left Louisiana with a smaller investment portfolio.

At the end of the 2016 budget cycle, the state's investment portfolio dropped to its lowest – $1.9 billion – but regrew to about $2.5 billion in the year since, the audit found. 

Cash in the General Fund, Capital Outlay Escrow Fund and various dedicated funds not needed in the short-term goes into the state’s pooled investment portfolio.

The audit determined that the loss in state assets between 2013 and 2016 was due primarily to a decrease in revenue, coupled with multiple fund sweeps from dedicated funds.

In a statement, the governor's office said that the audit's findings highlight issues he has raised.

"The Legislative Auditor’s report on the state treasury department findings further underscores what Gov. John Bel Edwards has been saying about the state’s budget problems," spokeswoman Shauna Sanford said. "Multiple funds sweeps and other irresponsible and deceptive practices that were used by the previous administration to artificially balance the budget with one-time funds created the state’s current fiscal crisis. Those types of decisions reduced state assets held in the treasury to the point where the state had to take out revenue anticipation notes to make sure its bills were paid on time."

Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.