DiNapoli: Chatham Police Chief Sentenced for Pension Double-Dipping

Link: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/2021/07/dinapoli-chatham-police-chief-sentenced-pension-double-dipping

Excerpt:

Former Village of Chatham Chief of Police Peter Volkmann was sentenced to pay $92,829 in restitution and perform 200 hours of community service today for defrauding the New York State pension system by concealing his unlawful post-retirement public income and for stealing from the village through sham requests for reimbursement. His fraud was discovered during a joint investigation by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka, and the New York State Police.

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Volkmann pleaded guilty in February to grand larceny in the fourth degree for circumventing New York state’s post-retirement income restrictions and cheating the New York State and Local Retirement System out of $74,222. Volkmann hid public-source income from 19 municipalities and school districts in excess of the statutory limit by funneling the earnings through a private business, PF Volkmann & Associates. He also pled to official misconduct, a misdemeanor, for stealing $18,607 from the Village of Chatham by falsifying mileage vouchers and other reimbursements to increase his income. 

Volkmann, 57, of Stuyvesant, served as a Chief of Police for the town of Stockport until 2016. He was also the Chief of Police for the Village of Chatham since the fall of 2013 and he served as unpaid Commissioner of the Hudson Police Department from January 2020, until this investigation became public.

Author(s): Thomas DiNapoli

Publication Date: 19 July 2021

Publication Site: NY State Comptroller

Report Reveals Albany’s Balanced Budget a Gimmick

Graphic:

Excerpt:

The dramatic reversal that shrank the state’s four-year budget gap from $38.7 billion in January to the current $3.4 billion occurred, incredibly, despite the Governor and legislature adopting a budget that increases state spending significantly in education and other areas. What turned the tide was a massive injection of federal aid—including $12.7 billion in no-strings federal aid awarded to the state in March under the American Rescue Plan—along with tax collections that defied earlier projections of vast, pandemic-induced revenue loss, and new tax hikes inflicted on high earners estimated to yield $2.75 billion in new revenue this year alone. As a result, the enacted budget financial plan the Governor’s budget office issued last month shows a balanced budget for this fiscal year and next. Even the red ink that starts accumulating in 2024 and 2025 looks manageable.

But looks are deceiving here. Extending the budget window—as does a chart on page nine of the Comptroller’s report, shown below—reveals large, yawning budget gaps growing from nearly $8 billion in 2026 to nearly $20 billion by the end of the decade. The dual expiration of American Rescue Plan funds in 2026 and a temporary hike in the PIT in 2027 sends the budget deep into the red.

Author(s): Peter Warren

Publication Date: 28 June 2021

Publication Site: Empire Center for Public Policy

Database: New York’s pension system hits record returns. Here’s who is getting the most

Link: https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/politics/2021/06/01/database-nys-pension-system-gets-record-returns-who-earned-most/5254524001/

Excerpt:

A rebound in the financial markets after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic fueled record growth in the state’s pension fund for government workers.

The pension fund for 1.1 million employees and retirees grew a whopping 33.6% for the fiscal year that ended March 31, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced Wednesday.

The return on investments increased the fund’s value to nearly $255 billion, making it one of the largest public pension funds in the nation.

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The fund’s long-term expected rate of return is 6.8%.

The health of the fund is critical to its 673,000 active workers and 447,000 retirees, and it comes as more public sector employees are retiring, a review of state records showed.

Author(s): Joseph Spector, Sean Lahman

Publication Date: 1 June 2021

Publication Site: Poughkeepsie Journal

DiNapoli Moves State Pension Fund Toward Net Zero Target, Restricts Investments in Oil Sands Companies

Link: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/2021/04/dinapoli-moves-state-pension-fund-toward-net-zero-target-restricts-investments-oil-sands-companies

Excerpt:

The New York State Common Retirement Fund (Fund) will restrict investments in oil sands companies that have not demonstrated that they are prepared for the transition to a low-carbon economy, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, trustee of the third largest public pension plan in the country, announced today.

This action is tied to DiNapoli’s comprehensive Climate Action Plan to lower investment risks from climate change and transition the Fund’s investment portfolio to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.

“As nations around the world become increasingly serious about addressing the threat of climate change and as market forces drive a low-carbon economic transition, we need to make sure our investments line up with this reality,” said DiNapoli. “We have carefully reviewed companies in the oil sands industry and are restricting investments in those that do not have viable plans to adapt to the low-carbon future. Companies responsible for large greenhouse gas emissions like those in this industry, pose significant risks for investors.”

Publication Date: 12 April 2021

Publication Site: Office of the NY State Comptroller

DiNapoli: NYS Pension Fund Announces $400 Million in Sustainable Investments

Link: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/2021/04/dinapoli-nys-pension-fund-announces-400-million-sustainable-investments

Excerpt:

The Fund committed approximately $300 million to Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners IV, a European investment fund that will focus on investments in renewable assets including onshore and offshore wind and solar, as well as climate infrastructure assets that support renewable power.

Additionally, the Fund committed $100 million to Excelsior Renewable Energy Investment Fund I, a North American-focused investment fund that will target investments in renewable power assets such as solar and wind.

Publication Date: 20 April 2021

Publication Site: Office of the NY State Comptroller

NY State Pension Commits to $400 Million in Sustainable Investments

Link: https://www.ai-cio.com/news/ny-state-pension-commits-400-million-sustainable-investments/

Excerpt:

The $247.7 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund has committed approximately $400 million to two funds as part of its Sustainable Investments and Climate Solutions (SICS) Program.

The commitments are part of New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s climate action plan to lower investment risks from climate change and help shift the pension fund to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions within the next 20 years.

Author(s): Michael Katz

Publication Date: 26 April 2021

Publication Site: ai-CIO

New York pension fund divests $7 million from Canadian oil sands firms

Link: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-new-york-pension-oil-sands/new-york-pension-fund-divests-7-million-from-canadian-oil-sands-firms-idUSKBN2BZ1UT?il=0

Excerpt:

New York’s state pension fund is restricting investment in six Canadian oil sands companies because they have not shown they are prepared for a transition to a low-carbon future, the fund’s Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said on Monday.

The New York State Common Retirement Fund will divest more than $7 million in securities already held in the companies, and not make any further investments in them, DiNapoli said in a statement.

Canada’s oil sands hold the world’s third-largest crude reserves and have some of the highest emissions intensity per barrel, due to the carbon-intensive production process of extracting tar-like bitumen from the ground.

Author(s): Nia Williams

Publication Date: 12 April 2021

Publication Site: Reuters

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Subway Ridership in New York City

Link: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/reports/osdc/impact-covid-19-pandemic-subway-ridership-new-york-city

Graphic:

Excerpt:

Subway turnstile data published by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) shows a correlation between median household income and subway ridership. Neighborhoods with lower median household incomes tended to have significantly higher ridership as a share of 2019 levels compared to wealthier neighborhoods. This trend was clear not only in April, when COVID-19 had its most dramatic impact on ridership, but has continued through the recovery to date.

In high-income neighborhoods, residents are more likely to be employed in sectors that have easily adapted to remote-work models, such as financial activities and business services. In neighborhoods where residents are more likely to continue using the subway during the pandemic, common areas of employment are the health care and social assistance sector and the leisure and hospitality sector.

Author(s): Thomas DiNapoli

Date Accessed: 28 March 2021

Publication Site: Office of New York State Comptroller

NYS Comptroller DiNapoli: Wall Street’s 2020 Bonuses Rose Amid Volatility

Link: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/2021/03/nys-comptroller-dinapoli-wall-streets-2020-bonuses-rose-amid-volatility

Excerpt:

The average bonus paid to employees in New York City’s securities industry grew by 10 percent in 2020 to $184,000, in line with the city’s most recent 9.9 percent projection, likely allowing the city to meet or exceed its income tax revenue projections in FY2021, according to annual estimates released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

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As a major source of revenue, DiNapoli estimates that the securities industry accounted for 18 percent ($15.1 billion) of state tax collections in state fiscal year (SFY) 2020 and 6 percent ($3.9 billion) of city tax collections in city fiscal year (CFY) 2020.

Pretax profits in 2020 for the broker/dealer operations of New York Stock Exchange member firms (the traditional measure of securities industry profits) increased by 81 percent to $50.9 billion. It was the fifth consecutive year of growth in profits, which are up 256 percent since 2015. Profitability in 2020 was the second highest on record, trailing $61.4 billion recorded in 2009.

Author(s): Thomas DiNapoli

Publication Date: 26 March 2021

Publication Site: Office of New York State Comptroller

Biden, Congress about to rain cash on NY state, local governments

Excerpt:

As Governor Cuomo already has pointed out on the state level, the federal stimulus aid amounts to “the ultimate one shot . . . a sugar high.” The highest priority of state and local officials should be to avoid plowing the federal money into recurring spending commitments that will create bigger budget deficits in the future.

In an ideal world, New York pols will embark on a careful, painstaking assessment of needs, weighing short-term relief against recurring long-term benefits. Since most upstate cities are very old, with crumbling physical infrastructures, they would be well advised to invest the bulk of their “Biden bucks” into streets, sidewalks, water and sewer systems. This will save money on maintenance costs—which are high in many of these places. It also will help these cities retain and attract business activity they cannot afford to lose—and were already losing before the pandemic.

Local governments could also consider ways to help small local retail businesses and their landlords, especially restaurants and entertainment venues, which were crushed by the pandemic. One way of doing this might be a property tax holiday, or a long-overdue assessment and equalization update, whose transitional costs could be covered by the federal money.

Author(s): E. J. McMahon

Publication Date: 10 March 2021

Publication Site: Empire Center

DiNapoli: State’s Fiscal Picture Has Improved, but Impact of Pandemic Revenue Losses Will Linger

Link: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/2021/03/dinapoli-states-fiscal-picture-has-improved-impact-pandemic-revenue-losses-will-linger

Excerpt:

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today said there are some positive developments for the state’s fiscal recovery from the pandemic, including higher than expected personal income tax collections and the prospect of significant aid from the federal government, in his review of the Executive Budget for State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2021-22, as amended by the Governor. However, risks remain and could threaten the state’s fragile improvement.

DiNapoli urged the Governor and the Legislature to avoid short-sighted choices when adopting the new budget, to maintain transparency and include oversight measures. He recommended that actions be taken to address the state’s long-term structural imbalance and put the state’s finances on a sustainable path once emergency federal aid ends.

Author(s): Thomas DiNapoli

Publication Date: 2 March 2021

Publication Site: Office of the New York State Comptroller

DiNapoli: State Pension Fund Calls on Companies to Address Climate Risk, Transition to Cleaner Operations

Link: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/2021/03/dinapoli-state-pension-fund-calls-companies-address-climate-risk-transition-cleaner-operations

Excerpt:

The New York State Common Retirement Fund (Fund) has reached agreements with five major U.S. companies, including Domino’s Pizza Inc., to set targets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), adopt new energy efficiency measures and increase their use of renewable energy, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, trustee of the Fund, announced today. In response to the agreements, the Fund withdrew the shareholder resolutions with the companies.

“More and more companies understand that addressing climate change, by reducing their carbon emissions, helps their long-term success and benefits investors,” DiNapoli said. “The transition to a low carbon future and meeting our country’s renewed commitment to the Paris Agreement present enormous opportunities for smart, sustainable investments. My thanks to these companies for recognizing their role in building a lower-carbon economy and their responsibility to shareholders’ concerns about climate risk.”

Author(s): Thomas DiNapoli

Publication Date: 4 March 2021

Publication Site: Office of the New York State Comptroller