The best interests of North Carolina taxpayers and retirees will be served through legislative passage of House Bill 750, which requires investment decisions to be made on the basis of the highest financial returns, not social and political 'wacktivism,' State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA, said after the House and Senate voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the measure.
“This is a good day in North Carolina. We are grateful to those lawmakers who understand the need to shield the state pension plan against the movement to weaponize public retirement systems to achieve extreme agendas,” Treasurer Folwell said. The act is aimed at barring Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors in hiring and other personnel matters, or when awarding state contracts.
Most important, the treasurer said, is that those who spent their working years to teach, protect and serve can remain confident that investment decisions will conform to the fiduciary duty of loyalty and care. That means seeking the highest yields to strengthen and sustain their pension plan for this and future generations.
“We never have had ESG policies at the Department of State Treasurer. We don’t need a law to tell us what is right and wrong,” Treasurer Folwell said. “But now we do have a law that very clearly defines the guardrails.”
Some activists want ideological ESG factors such as climate change and abortion to be considered when determining how and where public money will be invested. Major asset management firms such as BlackRock have used the market power they gained from their investors through proxy votes to aggressively push for ESG investments that may not be in the best interests of those same clients.
Treasurer Folwell has taken a firm stand in opposition to those practices. He signed an agreement that enables the North Carolina Retirement Systems to vote its own shares of about $14 billion in BlackRock investments rather than allow the investment giant to cast proxy votes for those shares. He also has called on BlackRock CEO Larry Fink to resign or be removed from the top spot of the money management company.
The North Carolina Retirement Systems is the 12th largest public pension fund in the country, and is regarded as one of the best funded in the nation. It provides retirement benefits and savings for more than 1 million North Carolinians, including teachers, state employees, local government workers, firefighters, police officers and other public workers. It is currently valued at $114.2 billion.