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New Mexico retirement board to amend investment policies » Albuquerque Journal

Written by on October 17, 2020

A panel that oversees a multibillion-dollar pension fund for New Mexico academics and different academic retirees took a step Friday towards dropping investments in personal jail firms.

The Instructional Retirement Board voted 4-2, with one member abstaining, to amend its funding insurance policies to exclude personal prisons from its portfolio. The vote got here after greater than a 12 months by which strain from academics’ unions and immigration activists fueled a debate about socially accountable investments.

The newest spherical of public remark included what some board members described as impassioned pleas to cease placing any cash into funds that embody personal jail firms.

Some board members reiterated their issues Friday, saying members ought to be conscious to not run afoul of constitutional mandates and statutory necessities that information funding of the retirement fund. Those that voted towards the movement to start revamping the board’s insurance policies mentioned that, to impact extra change, activists ought to be lobbying the state Legislature and municipal officers who contract with personal jail firms.

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Board member Adan Delgado argued that fellow members don’t have “the luxurious of washing their fingers of this challenge.”

“I don’t suppose we’re simply any pension fund,” he mentioned. “We’re a pension fund that represents educators and I feel the message that we obtained from our members has clearly indicated that they’ve a really robust distaste for our funding in personal prisons.”

It’s unsure how lengthy it’s going to take employees to organize new insurance policies. It will then be as much as the board to contemplate the proposed modifications at a subsequent assembly.

Activists had focused investments in Florida-based GEO Group and Tennessee-based CoreCivic. The 2 firms function county jails and detention amenities for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in New Mexico and elsewhere.

The businesses’ shares have been a part of the S&P 400, one of many many funds which might be a part of the retirement board’s portfolio. Nevertheless, the S&P opted to take away CoreCivic from the index, that means pension funds had been not tied to that firm as of mid-August.

As for GEO Group, the pension fund owns a fraction of 1% of the corporate by its inventory holdings.

Bob Jacksha, the retirement board’s chief funding officer, mentioned there can be minimal prices concerned to drop the corporate from its portfolio and that it will take a bit of extra time for the employees every month to match the fund’s holdings with what would in any other case be the S&P 400 minus GEO Group.

Board Chairman Steven Gluckstern mentioned that whereas present coverage doesn’t enable for the board to “decide and select” particular person shares, revamping that steerage quantities to a a lot bigger choice than merely divesting a single inventory.

Board Member Donald Duszynski mentioned the board has a accountability beneath the state structure to make sure the fund is invested for the only real advantage of retirees and different beneficiaries, that the belief funds shall by no means be used or diverted for another function, and that investments be prudent and based mostly on the portfolio as a complete, not on particular person property.

He warned that making an announcement on personal prisons may result in a slippery slope by which the board has to take sides on different points – from fossil fuels to abortion, contraception or tobacco.

“Our divestment indicators our disapproval of personal prisons, completely it’s going to sign that, nevertheless it won’t cease their existence and even have an effect on their existence,” he mentioned. “By divesting, I feel we lose leverage that we’d have over the method. Divesting is a passive choice and it’ll don’t have any impact on the GEO Group, none in anyway.”

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