As part of the plan, the Comptroller announced an aggressive schedule of divestment activity over the next four years. This year already, the Common Fund has divested from 22 coal companies. In the next few months, it will divest from companies with tar sands investments. After that, over the next several years, it will divest from these subsectors of the fossil fuel industry:
- Shale oil and gas firms;
- Integrated oil/gas majors like Exxon and Chevron as well as smaller integrated companies;
- All oil/gas exploration and production firms;
- Fossil fuel service firms, like Schlumberger;
- And finally, fossil fuel transportation and pipeline companies like Kinder Morgan and Williams.
In addition, the Common Fund is moving forward with two key steps, both supported by the 2018 Decarbonization Panel that was jointly appointed by Governor Cuomo and Comptroller DiNapoli. First, the Fund will hire new staff trained in financial analysis of climate impacts and dangers. And second, the Common Fund will actively vote against board directors of non-fossil fuel companies that do not prioritize climate concerns in alignment with the Fund’s decarbonization goals.
Author(s): Rich Schrader
Publication Date: 9 Dec 2020
Publication Site: NRDC
A war of words between New York and New Jersey legislators over red light cameras could prove costly to commuters who could be slapped with hefty fees to travel between New York City and the Garden State.
New York lawmakers want to slap Jersey drivers with a $50 “non-cooperation fee” when they drive into New York City, in response to a bill that would bar the state Motor Vehicle Commission from helping New York enforce red light and speed camera tickets against Garden State drivers.
If passed by New York State’s senate and assembly, that charge would be on top of the $16 cash toll to cross the Hudson into Manhattan, and could be added to proposed congestion pricing fees for driving south of 60th Street, that might take effect in 2024.
O’Scanlon reiterated his long standing opposition to automated enforcement, citing his analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety administration statistics that showed red light camera and other automated enforcement did not translate in to lower death rates in states that had them.
“There is no correlation to safety benefits. Every unbiased assessment showed no benefit,” he said. “It’s a demonstrable fact that automated enforcement and red light camera systems don’t improve safety.”
Author(s): Larry Higgs
Publication Date: 1 Oct 2022
Publication Site: NJ.com
The state Health Department intentionally “misled the public” regarding the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes under former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration, according to a scathing audit from the Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
When the COVID-19 pandemic swept through New York, the Department of Health was not prepared to respond to the infectious disease outbreaks in nursing homes, according to the audit, which helped lead to the inaccurate virus-related death count in facilities.
Auditors found that health officials undercounted the death toll in nursing homes by at least 4,100 residents and at times more than 50 percent, despite claims from the former governor, who said the state was doing well in protecting seniors.
Author(s): Zak Failla
Publication Date: 17 March 2022
Publication Site: New York Daily Voice
The Supreme Court’s unwillingness to intervene in a fight among states over taxing income from remote work may spark a jurisdictional revenue war. In August, the Court refused to take up a lawsuit by New Hampshire against Massachusetts’ practice of levying income taxes on Granite State residents employed by Bay State companies but working from home during the Covid lockdowns. Now New Jersey officials, who filed an amicus brief in the case because the state’s telecommuting residents are similarly taxed by New York, have proposed a law that would let the state tax telecommuters, including possibly tens of thousands of Empire State residents now working from home but employed by Garden State companies. The in-your-face legislation also provides incentives for Jersey residents to challenge New York’s law in tax court—one of the only venues left to residents after the Supreme Court decision. Given that several hundred thousand New Yorkers once commuted to other states to work and may now be staying home to telecommute, Albany risks losing revenues.
Beginning in March 2020, Covid restrictions brought a sharp rise in telecommuting, or working remotely from home. Studies have suggested that, during the pandemic’s initial phases, up to 36 percent of all private-sector employees, or about 43 million people, worked at home at least one day a week, and 15 percent, or about 18 million, telecommuted full-time. Census data before the pandemic found that as many as 6 million workers regularly cross state lines to go to their jobs. So it’s likely that several million current telecommuters have jobs with firms in another state. In New Hampshire, about 15 percent of residents with jobs—some 84,000 workers—commuted to Massachusetts pre-pandemic.
Author(s): Steven Malanga
Publication Date: 26 Sept 2022
Publication Site: City Journal
New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced employer contribution rates for the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS). Employers’ average contribution rates for the State Fiscal Year 2023-24 will increase from 11.6% to 13.1% of payroll for the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) and from 27.0% to 27.8% of payroll for the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS).
NYSLRS is made up of these two systems, which pay retirement and disability benefits to public employees and death benefits to their survivors.
“The state pension fund’s performance in the fiscal year that ended March 31 was strong, but recent domestic and global economic volatility demands caution,” DiNapoli said. “As we move forward with our prudent investment strategy, we remain focused on long-term stable returns for New York’s public employers and workforce. Uncertainty may be a constant in financial markets, but the rates announced today will help ensure that New York’s pension fund will continue to be one of the nation’s strongest and best funded, ready to provide retirement security for generations to come.”
Author(s): press release of Office of State Comptroller of New York
Publication Date: 1 Sept 2022
Publication Site: Office of the State Comptroller
The New York State Common Retirement Fund has reported a 9.51% investment return for fiscal year 2022, while the New York City Retirement System reported an annual preliminary loss of 8.65% among its five pension funds.
However, the fiscal year for the state’s pension ended March 31, while the city’s pension funds ended their fiscal year June 30, after a quarter during which global markets tumbled and the S&P 500 fell by more than 16%.
The portfolio’s alternative investments buoyed the pension fund’s returns, which raised the portfolio’s asset value to $272.1 billion as of March 31. Private equity returned 37.57% for the year, while the fund’s real estate investments and real assets returned 27.4% and 16.12% respectively. The three asset classes account for nearly 24% of the portfolio’s total asset allocation. The pension fund recently reported that it had committed more than $3 billion in alternative investments during June alone.
The NYCRF had an asset allocation of 49.70% in publicly traded equities, 21.18% in cash, bonds and mortgages, 13.64% in private equity, 10.00% in real estate and real assets and 5.48% in credit, absolute return strategies and opportunistic alternatives. The fund’s long-term expected rate of return is 5.9%.
Author(s): Amy Resnick
Publication Site: ai-CIO
A New York woman is facing prison time after admitting that she hid her mother’s death for years in order to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars in her teacher pension benefits.
Long Island resident Cynthia Rozzell, of Hempstead, pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny on Tuesday, Aug. 9.
Prosecutors said Rozzell concealed the death of her mother, Mary Garrett, and collected pension benefits issued to Garrett by the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System (NYSTRS) between May 2014 and May 2020.
“Pension theft is not a victimless crime,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James. “By stealing her deceased mother’s pension benefits, Ms. Rozzell dishonored countless hardworking New Yorkers who have dedicated their lives to one of our most noble professions: teaching and enriching our youth.”
Author(s): Michael Mashburn
Publication Date: 9 Aug 2022
Publication Site: Daily Voice
New York City’s pension funds lost 8.65% of their value for the fiscal year that ended June 30, according to a release Friday from city Comptroller Brad Lander.
While more detailed information won’t be released until September, the losses reduced the pension funds to about $240 billion.
While the S&P 500 stock index fell 14% in the first six months of 2022, Lander said that all is well with the pension funds “Despite market declines on a scale that hasn’t been seen in decades, the New York City retirement system outperformed our benchmarks and are well positioned to weather market volatility in the long run,” he said in a statement.
But the city budget — currently $101 billion — will still take a hit.
Author(s): Greg David
Publication Date: 1 Aug 2022
Publication Site: The City
The New York State Common Retirement Fund, one of the nation’s largest pension funds, announced that it will vote to remove all of Twitter’s directors at this week’s annual shareholder meeting. The vote against the directors is unlikely to result in change, but it shows mounting institutional pressure for Twitter to resist Elon Musk’s vision for relaxed content moderation policies.
Thomas DiNapoli, the New York state comptroller and trustee to the estimated $279.7 billion fund, said the Twitter board of directors had repeatedly failed to enforce the company’s own content moderation policies.
“Allowing this content on social media platforms facilitates the radicalization of individuals through repeated exposure to violent rhetoric, hate speech and examples of previous violence,” DiNapoli wrote in the public letter to Twitter’s directors. DiNapoli placed particular emphasis on Twitter’s failure to remove footage from a livestreamed mass shooting that took place in Buffalo, New York, last weekend. The alleged shooter espoused white supremacy ideology and pointed to social media sites including 4chan as the source of his radicalization.
Author(s): Hirsh Chitkara
Publication Date: 23 May 2022
Publication Site: protocol
The New York State Common Retirement Fund is committing another $350 million to two investment funds through its in-state private equity investment program, fund trustee and state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli recently announced.
“The in-state program has helped hundreds of New York businesses add and retain thousands of jobs and grow while achieving solid returns for the retirement system members and their beneficiaries that rely on the pension fund for their retirement security,” DiNapoli said. “We’ve committed more than $2 billion through this program to invest in New York state companies, and I’m proud to continue building on our successful track record.”
The fund will provide $50 million in additional capital to the Hudson River co-investment fund III, which it already invests in, and another $300 million in the new Hudson River co-investment fund IV. The funds make equity co-investments (investments alongside a lead sponsor) in growing New York-based companies.
Author(s): Thomas P. DiNapoli
Publication Date: 14 Jun 2022
Publication Site: Niagara Frontier Publications
The Biden administration’s Securities and Exchange Commission is suing the city of Rochester, New York, contending that “rampant overspending on teacher salaries” plunged the Rochester school district into “extreme financial distress,” misleading investors who bought municipal bonds.
The legal action is unusual. Sure, the federal government’s interaction with K-12 education has often extended beyond the bounds of the U.S. Department of Education. The Department of Agriculture administers the school lunch program, and the Department of Defense operates schools serving military-connected children. Under George W. Bush, the Justice Department toyed with the idea of using antitrust law to support charter schools. And in the waning days of the Trump administration, President Trump issued an executive order authorizing “emergency learning scholarships” to be provided via the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
But, notwithstanding Bloomberg columnist Matt Levine’s theory that
“everything is securities fraud,” in practice, the K-12 education beat hasn’t intersected greatly with the fraud provisions of federal securities laws. At least until now.
How much has Rochester been “overspending?” The website Seethroughny.com, a project of the Empire Center for Public Policy, lists 717 Rochester City School District Employees who earned more than $100,000 in 2019. The district has about 25,000 K-12 public school students, according to the state of New York. Spending runs about $20,000, a little below the statewide average. Whether that amounts to “overspending” probably depends on one’s view of how much the children are learning, and also one’s view of whether the students could learn more, and how much more, if more money were spent.
In practice, the legal aspects of the case will probably turn more on considerations about disclosure to potential bond buyers than about the details of the spending on teacher salaries.
Even so, the mere mention of securities law and bondholders as potential tools to curb school district “overspending” is intriguing, especially when the action comes under a president who campaigned promising to increase school spending so as to pay teachers “competitive salaries.” For years, reformers have complained that teachers unions capture school boards and run school systems for the benefit of adults rather than children. Now a different set of influential adults—bondholders—is, in a way, asserting, via the SEC, its own claim that could be a countervailing force.
Author(s): Ira Stoll
Publication Date: 15 June 2022
Publication Site: Education Next
Pension funds around the U.S. are upping their allocations to private equity after a year of record-breaking returns. According to data obtained from Preqin, the average public pension’s allotment to private equity increased to 8.9% in 2021. In contrast, the average allocation was just 6.5% in 2012.
New York City’s pensions are among those that may see an increased allocation to the asset class in their portfolios should a new law pass. Currently, New York State implements a “basket clause,” which prevents public pensions from investing above 25% of their total portfolios in investments considered higher risk, including real estate, infrastructure, hedge funds, international equities, and private equity. The proposed law would increase that allocation to 35% for all pension funds in the state. If the law passed, the boards of New York City’s five public pensions would vote on whether to increase the “basket” for their own pension funds.
New York City Interim CIO Michael Haddad, who is responsible for overseeing investments in the five pension plans across the city, says that while the change in the law isn’t targeted at private equity exclusively, it’s likely that the asset class would increase.
Author(s): Anna Gordon
Publication Date: 10 May 2022
Publication Site: ai-CIO