Divest Oregon Update: Answers to our Central Committee Questions
For those of you who were at the February Central Committee, Divest Oregon presented their mission, and about Bill HB-2601: Treasury Investment and Climate Protection Act.
After the presentation a few people had questions that Divest said they would get back to us on. These are the questions and answers.
How does divestment work with mutual funds?
Much of OPERF public equity is invested through outside fund managers. In these, including if there are mutual or index funds with fossil investments, is:
1. OPERF would have to tell the fund manager to divest into something of equal or greater economic value.
2. If the manager could, they should.
3. If the manager couldn’t, the investment would remain with OPERF until it could.
Private Equity investments would follow a similar pattern on a longer time frame acknowledging existing longer term contracts.
Is any accountability built in…such as a review in a couple of years to see if PERS recipients have lost money?
Transparency and accountability are a major part of our bill. Accountability measures are included in section 8 of the bill One requirement is to publicly report one-, three-, five- and ten-year average returns for all public and fixed investments.
Is it true what the Treasurer says about potential lawsuits, and how would Divest respond to that?
While lawsuits are always possible, divestment in and of itself is within the scope of the Treasury, as they make investment decisions all the time. The investment requirements explained in Section 4 of the bill are that the Treasury act within fiduciary duty to invest in acceptable institutions at comparable or better rates and returns, in light of the risk and investment horizon appropriate for each investment fund.
As well, is the timeframe enough time to not have people lose their jobs ?
As for job loss, there should not be any immediate job loss from divestment; hopefully this will allow Treasury will increase its investment in alternative energy solutions, helping to create the jobs of a healthy future.
*The Washington County Democrat Central Committee voted to become members of Divest Oregon in August 2021.