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Treasurer Cowell Calls on Legislature to Pass Pension Investment Reforms

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 12, 2014

Treasurer Cowell Calls on Legislature to Pass Pension Investment Reforms 

RALEIGH, NC – State Treasurer Janet Cowell today called on the General Assembly to pass several significant pension investment reforms during its upcoming session. These initiatives would provide additional oversight and transparency for the $86 billion pension fund for teachers, state, and local employees. The proposals were unanimously recommended by the Investment Fiduciary Governance Commission, an independent, bipartisan commission Cowell appointed in January.

“North Carolina has one of the strongest pension funds in the country and the reforms I am proposing today will ensure it continues to serve retirees well into the future,” Cowell said. “The Commission had several unanimous recommendations that, when enacted into law, will codify many of my previous policy changes and be a significant step forward for the governance of our retirement investments.”

Since taking office in 2009, Cowell has enacted numerous ethics, transparency, and oversight reforms. Today’s proposals continue that pattern. In a letter to House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, Cowell proposed the following changes:

  • Enhancing the State's existing audit by requiring financial statements, audited by a commercial independent third-party firm, for the Retirement Systems investment program
  • A requirement that the Treasurer commission an independent performance review of the state's investment practices every four years making the process the Department has followed since 2009 a statutory requirement
  • Expanded and modernized reporting for each Retirement Systems external investment, and clarification of public records laws pertaining to the investment program
  • Additional resource flexibility, including greater ability to determine the size of the State's investment staff consistent with the Treasurer’s fiduciary duties to the trust funds

In her letter to legislative leaders, Cowell said, "On one important issue, whether North Carolina should move to a board structure for investment governance, the Commission was split.  Based on initial feedback from legislators, legislation concerning a potential board will likely need to wait until the 2015 Long Session. On this issue, I hope the Commission's majority and minority reports can serve as a framework for discussion about whether the State should make this fundamental change.”

Treasurer Cowell will be working with legislators to pass additional retirement system enhancements during the legislative session.

Treasurer Cowell’s letter to Speaker Tillis and Senator Berger

Final report of the Investment Fiduciary Governance Commission:

Letter from IFGC Chairman Michael Kennedy to the State Treasurer

Final Report of the IFGC to the State Treasurer

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The North Carolina Retirement Systems, the formal name for the pension fund, is the eleventh largest public pension fund in the country. It provides retirement benefits and savings for more than 875,000 North Carolinians, including teachers, state employees, firefighters, police officers and other public workers. For more information, visit www.nctreasurer.com​.