Category Archives: Blog

Underfunded Pensions – The Nice & Naughty List

Pensions across the country are habitually underfunded. Recent reports released from the Center for State and Local Government Excellence show that state and local pension plans are only about 74% funded and have unfunded liabilities of about $1.4 trillion. They also found that 20% of pensions are under 60% funded. This is appalling when it is put into context that not only are the pensioners going without, but the extra costs falls on tax payers around the country.

Costs are … Read More

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Decision for the Board Just Became Easier – Divesting Means More Costs for the City of San Francisco and No Reward

The San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System (SFERS) Board has an upcoming decision to make that will affect the lives of thousands of Californians. However, this decision just became a very easy one. A recent study from Compass Lexecon found that divesting from oil, natural gas, and coal securities would cost SFERS $11.5 million annually, the authors note in a recent San Francisco Examiner column. That equals to $149 billion loss over 50 years.

The study also found that the decision … Read More

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As CalPERS Hits Earnings Target, Public Workers Urge Fund to Focus on Pensions

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), the biggest pension system in the country, reported some good news recently, when officials announced a stellar 11.2% return rate percent, a stark contrast to less than stellar returns from the past two years, when CalPERS recorded returns of .61% and 2.4%.

The good news comes at a time when pension funds all across the country are being pressured to stray away from their primary mission, securing the retirement of those retirees who … Read More

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Seattle Pension Board Puts Retirees First, Rejects Divestment

Good news came out of Seattle this week, as the Seattle City Employees’ Retirement System (SCERS) Board voted to reject a measure to divest the fund of energy holdings. Regarding the decision, the SCERS memo read:

While we are concerned with the profoundly negative impact that climate change is having on our environment, divesting … would negatively affect expected investment performance, even if pursued on a limited scale (e.g. only coal) or if pursued over many years.

Jason Malinowski, chief … Read More

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Cambridge, MA Should Not Follow in the Divestment Footsteps of Somerville

It is a fact that good ideas get copied by others. The inverse, however, can also apply, and when it comes to the bad idea of divestment, those bad ideas come with real costs to pensioners.

With the city of Somerville, Massachusetts divesting their municipal pension fund of traditional energy assets, some divestment advocates are calling for this bad idea to be replicated elsewhere, such as in neighboring Cambridge. A recent letter to the editor written by a Cambridge resident … Read More

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Coalition Leaders Tell California Senate: Protect Pensions, Reject AB 20

In anticipation of the California State Senate hearing on Assembly Bill 20 on July 10, California members of Protect our Pensions sent a letter urging lawmakers to take politics out of pension decisions, and to reject this costly legislation.

The bill, introduced in late 2016, is designed to pressure the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) to divest from businesses involved with the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), a project that is already … Read More

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Editorial: California Insurance Commissioner’s Divestment Rationale “Doesn’t Pass the Laugh Test”

The push to inject politics into investment decisions has spread beyond just pensions and has permeated to other sectors as well. Most recently, 13 state officials signed onto a cease and desist letter to California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, who has used his position to pressure insurance companies to divest from traditional energy assets.

The editorial board of The Oklahoman spoke out against the initiative as well, explaining just why the Mr. Jones’ crusade is harmful to consumers far beyond … Read More

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Orange County Register Op-ed: “AB 20 Would Worsen California’s Public Pension Crisis”

AB 20, the controversial bill designed to pressure CalPERS and CalSTRS to divest of funds of companies involved in the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), received more bad press today. The  Orange County Register published an op-ed calling the legislation “problematic” and highlighting the negative effect of divestment on the state’s pension funds.

Economist Dr. Wayne Winegarden of the Pacific Research Institute stressed what the effects of increasing the pension shortfall would be:

Without properly accounting for risk,

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Pittsburgh to Lose Nearly Half a Million Dollars a Year if Pension Funds Are Forced to Divest

As a part of the response to the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Accord, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto issued an executive order that called upon the municipal pension funds to be divested from fossil fuels by 2030. This week, experts announced just how much they estimated the city could stand to lose from such a move, and announced the amount to be $500,000 annually.

The researchers also noted that the losses that Pittsburgh would suffer would have only symbolic effect … Read More

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Seattle Throws Pensioners Under the Bus to Attract Attention

Seattle has long been an outspoken advocate for various causes and the environment is no exception. After the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Accord, many cities and states, along with Seattle, reaffirmed their commitment to the agreement.

Recently the Seattle City Council passed a resolution committing the city to uphold the Paris Accord. However, one of the recommendations in the resolution was the divestment from energy companies of the Seattle City Employees’ Retirement System (SCERS), the municipal pension system of … Read More

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