Statement from State Comptroller DiNapoli on
AG Cuomo’s Proposed Pension Fund Reform Legislation
It’s been a long struggle to repair the damage the Hevesi Administration inflicted on the state pension fund. Over the past two and a half years, I’ve used my authority as trustee to institute a long list of reforms to the management of the pension fund to limit the opportunity for corruption. I’ve banned the use of placement agents and lobbyists in Fund investments, I’ve implemented policies to put New York at the forefront in the fight to stop pay-to-play, and I’ve increased transparency and accountability in every aspect of the Fund’s transactions. I’ve also voluntarily limited contributions to my own campaign to less than half the legal limit.
At the same time, Attorney General Cuomo has been investigating criminal and civil allegations against both the Hevesi Administration and members of the financial community, and he’s been getting results.
The Attorney General’s proposed legislation is another good step forward toward reform. The bill would codify many of the reforms I’ve already implemented along with setting in law a code of conduct.
The bill also extends the ban on pay-to-play campaign contributions to candidates for governor and attorney general as well as the majority and minority leaders of both houses of the legislature.
Perhaps most significantly, the Attorney General has raised the issue of the creation of a board of trustees for the Fund. After the Hevesi Administration violated the public trust, New Yorkers are rightly asking questions about the best way to ensure ethical, honest management of the Fund. The viability of a board should be put on the table.
Whatever changes the legislature and governor may decide to make, they have to be done right. We can’t afford the chaos and confusion of protracted legal battles and constitutional challenges. There are any number of issues that have to be resolved, including the make up of a board, how board members would be selected, what is the fiscal impact and cost of the new system, and perhaps most significantly, the constitutionality of this kind of change.
Public trust needs to be earned and the pension fund needs to continue to function as effectively as it has. One million New York retirees, public employees and their families are depending on that. Any discussions must be open, public and inclusive. This bill opens the door on those discussions. The time is right for this debate, so let’s have it.