N.Y. Pol To Pension Fund: Pull Out Of Personal Jail Firms

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ALBANY — A state senator from Harlem has launched a invoice that may require the pension fund to disinvest from firms with ties to privately run prisons, the Each day Information has realized.

“There is no such thing as a cause a progressive state like New York ought to be benefiting from mass incarceration,” mentioned invoice sponsor Sen. Brian Benjamin, a Democrat.

“Passing this invoice wouldn’t solely be the proper factor to do morally, it could profit society economically.”

Underneath the invoice, the state controller, the only real trustee of the state pension fund, can be prohibited from investing in any shares, securities or different obligation of any firm or subsidiary that owns or invests in a for-profit firm that contracts with a authorities to run a jail.

Benjamin, the rating member on the Senate Civil Service and Pensions Committee, argued that “by their very nature, personal, for-profit prisons drive the inhumane observe of incarcerating low-income individuals of colour.”

A Benjamin spokesman mentioned the roughly $200 billion state pension fund has about $11.5 million invested in no less than two firms with ties to non-public prisons.

Jennifer Freeman, a spokeswoman for state Controller Thomas DiNapoli, could not affirm the precise quantity, however mentioned the holdings are “minimal.”

Freeman mentioned the controller’s workplace has spoken with Benjamin concerning the laws, however hasn’t taken a place.

DiNapoli in late 2015 introduced his workplace was taking steps to cut back and limit the fund’s funding in personal prisons.

State regulation doesn’t enable privately run prisons in New York. However there isn’t any formal prohibition maintaining the state pension fund from investing in such firms.

E.J. McMahon, of the Empire Middle, a state fiscal watchdog group, got here out in opposition to the Benjamin invoice, saying the controller’s accountability is to get the most effective returns on investments for the state’s pensioners, to not politicize the method.

“That is principally a recipe for limitless meddling and would really undermine the integrity of the pension investments,” McMahon mentioned. “

Gov. Cuomo this previous week referred to as for the pension fund to cease investing in fossil gasoline firms and likewise to search out methods to disinvest present holdings from such firms.

DiNapoli stopped wanting committing to Cuomo’s objective. Not like personal prisons, power firms are passively or actively a part of lots of the index funds through which the controller’s workplace invests, his spokeswoman mentioned.

“We’ve got billions in power firms,” Freeman mentioned. “It is not straightforward to unravel these investments. Plus, these investments are usually giant payers. They often ship strong returns.”

Cuomo argued final week that “you need to put your cash the place your mouth is and that’s what this proposal is about.”

Freeman argued that underneath DiNapoli, the pension fund has been discovering methods to cut back “our carbon footprint.”

She mentioned the fund has $5 billion devoted to sustainable power investments and $2 billion in an index that invests in firms that cut back carbon emissions. The fund has additionally taken steps to deal with local weather change by shareholder engagement, she mentioned.

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