Take Action: Protect our Pensions

President's Message
May 10, 2019

There is a bill pending in Albany,  S2126 (Krueger) and  A1536 (Ortiz), seeking to force our State Comptroller to divest the pension funds under his control from the stocks of any of the 200 largest publicly traded fossil fuel companies.  It is our opinion that any such legislation would be an unlawful impairment and diminution of the benefits of membership in the New York State Retirement System and an unlawful incursion on the sanctity of the Comptroller's independence and autonomy over the funds of the Retirement System.

Article 5, Section 7 of the New York State Constitution clearly states that the New York State Comptroller is the sole Trustee of the of the Pension Fund and it is his or her fiduciary responsibility to protect the Fund from any outside interference. Any legislation to the contrary would be unlawful and a misuse of legislative authority. On two separate occasions (in 1975 Sgaglione v. Levitt, 37 NY2d 507 and in 1993 McDermott v. Regan, 82 NY2d 354) the courts affirmed this position.

We, as members of the New York State Retirement System, are the beneficiaries of this Pension Fund, which pays out 1 billion dollars a month in pensions.  Under the guidance of our State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, the New York State Pension Fund is 98% funded as a result of contributions from its members, employers, and, most of all, investment returns. It is the 3rd best pension system in the country and we have Tom DiNapoli to thank for that.

We are all aware of what is happening in Albany and the people in control are making a huge statement about what they think of the hard working men and women in our state. We cannot allow them to pass legislation that will interfere with the Constitutional Mandate of the State Comptroller to protect and oversee the Pension Fund.  These legislators want to open the door, so that they can usurp the Comptrollers authority and manage the Pension Fund themselves. We can not let this happen.  I implore every member and retiree of the Suffolk County Court Employees Association to write to your local legislators and express your opposition to this bill.  I also ask you to write to Senator Liz Krueger, the sponsor of this bill on the Senate side of the legislature. She is anti public employee and she needs to hear from us. Senator Krueger knows that there is significant opposition to this bill but would not allow anybody opposing the bill to testify at a hearing that she was chairing.  Our lobbyist, Peter Meringolo tried to testify on our behalf but was told that testimony was by invite only. He then asked to be invited to testify and never got a response. Peter attended the hearing and was angered at the Senator's willingness to lie when, in her opening remarks, she stated that she was aware that there was opposition by the unions to her bill but nobody asked to testify. Senator Krueger will stop at nothing to push her agenda including bold faced lying. She needs to hear from us. In your letter please reference the bill numbers (S2126 -Krueger, and A1536 - Ortiz).

I am also attaching a letter that Tom Dinapoli wrote to Senator Krueger expressing his concern and his position on climate change, divestiture, and his fiduciary responsibility regarding the Pension Fund.  Please read it to get a better understanding of what is happening. Our lobbyist Peter Meringolo is working hard on our behalf to stop this bill and your union has already sent a memorandum in opposition to this bill. Now it is your turn. Please write to your local legislators and please write to Senator Krueger (New York State Senate, The Capital Building, Room #416. Albany NY 12247).  Let your voices be heard. We must do what is within our power to protect our pensions.

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