Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Treasurer Folwell Endorses H750 Addressing the Use of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Criteria by State Agencies and State Pension Plan Fiduciaries

Expresses Appreciation for the General Assembly’s Leadership on the Issue
Raleigh, NC
Jun 6, 2023

State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA, today endorsed H750 that is being heard this afternoon in the Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee. The bill protects the ability of current and future treasurers to make investment decisions based on what is best for the participants of the retirement plans, not an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) political agenda. Additionally, the legislation prohibits the use of ESG criteria when hiring, firing or evaluating state employees. It is also scheduled to be heard in Senate Pensions and Retirement and Aging on Wednesday, June 7, at 2:00 p.m.

“I enthusiastically support this bill,” Treasurer Folwell said. “As keeper of the public purse my duty is to manage our investments to ensure that the best interests of those that teach, protect and serve, as well as of our retirees, is always our focus. I appreciate the leadership and courage demonstrated by the bill’s sponsors and supporters. They have once again shown that their concern is always for the hard-working public servants who deserve to have their pension invested with returns in mind, not politics. There is no red or blue money at the treasurer’s office, only green.”

Treasurer Folwell singled out Sen. David Craven’s (Randolph), support as being “absolutely key” to moving the legislation forward in the Senate. Others in that body that were instrumental were Sens. Warren Daniel (McDowell) and Brad Overcash (Gaston). On the House side, he thanked Rep. Destin Hall (Caldwell), Rep. Jason Saine (Lincoln), Rep. Celeste Cairns (Carteret), and Rep. Neal Jackson (Randolph) for their leadership for signing onto the bill as primary co-sponsors.

"No state employee or business should be disqualified from a promotion or contract because they aren't committed to ESG and all the politics that come with it,” said Sen. Craven. “This bill will prevent the state from making ESG-driven business decisions, and instead have the focus be on merit and maximizing returns."

“People want their government to work,” said Treasurer Folwell. “This bill is the perfect example of how elected leaders can get together and make good policy so that future treasurers will not be able to use beneficiaries’ money to promote a political agenda.”

The treasurer’s support for the legislation is the culmination of his efforts to protect members of the retirement systems from the corrosive effect of ESG investing. In December 2022, he called on BlackRock CEO Larry Fink to resign or be removed from the asset management firm, citing a loss of confidence in Fink’s leadership due to his focus on ESG initiatives.  

BlackRock and Mr. Fink often use the financial power of their clients, through their ability to vote proxy shares, to push companies to “net zero” carbon goals often in conflict with their fiduciary responsibilities. After receiving backlash, BlackRock created a proxy voting system called Voting Choice. The program allows investors in certain pooled vehicles to have some degree of control over their voting. Treasurer Folwell recently signed an agreement that enables the North Carolina Retirement Systems (NCRS) to vote its shares managed by BlackRock.

“As fiduciaries, we need to be singularly focused on financial returns for our members,” added Treasurer Folwell. “I wish to express my most sincere appreciation to the members of the General Assembly for their help in achieving that goal.”

NCRS is the ninth-largest public pension fund in the country and regarded as one of the best funded in the nation. It provides retirement benefits and savings for more than1million North Carolinians, including teachers, state employees, local government workers, firefighters, police officers and other public workers. It is currently valued at $113.7 billion.

For more information, visit www.nctreasurer.com​.