Corbett Promises Special Pension Session If Re-Elected

Tom Corbett

Pennsylvania‘s incumbent candidate for governor, Tom Corbett, has made pension reform his campaign’s rallying cry.

But Gov. Corbett’s calls for reform haven’t been met with much enthusiasm. So Corbett announced this week that, if he is re-elected, he will call a special legislative session specifically to deal with pension reform on the state and municipal level.

From New Castle News:

Gov. Tom Corbett, if re-elected this year, plans to call for a special session of the Legislature specifically to deal with Pennsylvania’s pension issues.

He would like to see the meeting address state, municipal and school district concerns.

“I’ve been trying to fight the pension battle,” Corbett, a Republican, said during a meeting with The Tribune-Democrat Friday.

“I don’t know that we’re going to even get the little bit that we’re trying to get now. I’ve already announced, I’m going to call, in my second term, right away, a special session on pensions; not just the state pension, we might as well bring in the municipal pension, too, because I can tell you, all municipalities are coming to us, saying, ‘Take a look at this.’ Is that a big one to bite off? Yes. But, if we don’t do it, who’s going to do it? I know one thing, my opponent (Tom Wolf ) is not going to touch it.”

Pennsylvania has $47 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, according to the state’s budget office.

Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings both cited pension concerns when they dropped the state’s general-obligation debt rating this week.

“The downgrade reflects our view of the state’s diminished financial flexibility and growing expenditure pressures due to inaction on pension reform and limited revenue growth,” S&P said in its report.

Corbett wants to pass a plan that would shift new hires into a hybrid-type plan that more resembles a 401(k) than a defined benefit plan.

CalPERS, CalSTRS See Results From Initiative To Add Women To All-Male Boards

Board room

Earlier this summer, CalPERS and CalSTRS teamed up to try to improve the diversity of all-male corporate boards in California. The funds’ research had shown that 131 California-based companies had no women on their boards, so the pension giants sent letters to those companies to gauge their interest in improving the male to female ratio of their boards.

Early returns are in, and the initiative is already producing results. From IR Magazine:

At least 15 companies based in California have added a female director to their all-male boards and 35 have indicated a willingness to do so after a board gender diversity campaign launched by state pension giants CalSTRS and CalPERS targeting 131 companies in the state.

CalSTRS, the largest educator-only pension fund in the world with $187 bn in assets under management, along with CalPERS, which manages some $301 bn, began the campaign four months ago to target companies in its home state with all-male boards.

As part of the campaign, the two pension funds sent a letter to the companies offering their expertise to help them appoint women to their boards. Along with the letter, the campaigners included a copy of the National Association of Corporate Directors report ‘The Diverse Board: Moving from Interest to Action’ to illustrate the potential advantages of appointing women to a board.

CalPERS and CalSTRS started the campaign after learning that nearly 25 percent of the 400 largest publicly traded companies in California had no women on their boards. Only two of those 400 companies had boards where a majority of members were female.