ATLANTA, GA—Georgia lawmakers have an opportunity to protect state employee and teacher pensioners from radical political positions, and we urge them to act on it. HB 481, introduced by Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta), Chair of the House Retirement Committee, would require investments of state employee and teachers’ retirement funds to be based solely on the financial interest of participants and their beneficiaries rather than based on a political agenda. The provisions of HB 481 were added as a committee substitute to SB 266, by Senator Marty Harbin (R-Tyrone) during the Senate Retirement Committee on Tuesday, February 28, 2023.
SB 266 is now before the Georgia Senate Rules Committee awaiting floor consideration. If enacted, Georgia would join Florida, Alabama, Missouri, and Texas in banning environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investment strategies that have jeopardized retirement funds for the sake of furthering a leftist agenda. The Opportunity Solutions Project (OSP) applauds Rep. Carson’s and Sen. Harbin’s legislative efforts and encourages the Georgia General Assembly to vote on this issue promptly.
“When the far-Left tries to pick and choose winners in the marketplace, everyone loses,” said Eric Bledsoe, Visiting Fellow at OSP. “Pension funds are not meant to be slush funds for activists, and using ESG to funnel money towards far-Left causes is underhanded and irresponsible. If Georgia is serious about protecting state employees and teachers’ financial security, the General Assembly will move quickly to pass HB 481 or SB 266 to end this scheme before it undermines the freedom of Georgians.”
“As Chair of the Retirement Committee, Rep. Carson knows what is at stake if pensions are squandered away through bad investments. We thank Rep. Carson and Sen. Harbin for their work to protect Georgians from politically motivated investors,” said Amanda Prater, Visiting Fellow at OSP. “State employees and teachers deserve to know that their hard-earned money is being invested with their best interests, not BlackRock’s political agenda, in mind.”
In addition to being a violation of free speech, ESG is bad investing. ESG investing yields lower returns and it does not achieve its stated social goals. A recent study demonstrated that out of 20,000 mutual funds representing more than $8 trillion, regular funds outperformed ESG funds every time. In fact, no research study has been able to show that ESG gains higher financial returns for investors. Additionally, ESG money managers typically charge 40 percent more in fees to their clients.
The Opportunity Solutions Project is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization that specializes in health care, welfare, work reform, and election reform.