AFT-NH Testimony on HB 1267
From Debrah Howes, President AFT-NH
Thank you, Chair McGuire and Members of the House Executive Departments and Administration committee for reading my testimony.
My name is Debrah Howes. I am the president of the American Federation of Teachers-NH.
AFT-NH represents 3,700 teachers, paraeducators and school support staff, public service
employees and higher education faculty across New Hampshire. We are residents and taxpayers in the Granite State. I am writing today in opposition to HB 1267, relative to prohibiting environmental, social, and governance standards in the selection of government investments.
AFT-NH and its members want to see an investment in our states’ pension system with a portfolio that considers both strategic and responsible investments to ensure the best sustained return over the long term. HB 1267 would artificially limit what investments could be considered by the trustees of the retirement system. This is not a rational strategy for assessing long, or medium term risk, or even potential for growth. Assessing exposure to lawsuits for environmental clean-up or evaluating the promise of new and emerging technology to solve pressing environmental problems are examples of analysis that could be both within this bill’s proscribed realm of ESG, yet still be exercising sound financial management when considering investments. This bill leaves no room for an investment strategy that is both.
Forcing divestment from ESG funds has not worked in the states that have already done it. Arkansas has lost $30-$40 million a year. Indiana estimated a reduction in returns of $6.7 billion and Texas had a similar reduction estimate of $6 billion dollars. Restricting investors from considering all opportunities hinders their ability to make the best decisions for their clients and goes against the principles of a free market.
Our members who pay into the New Hampshire Retirement System with every single paycheck, who work to serve their communities for 40 or 50 years as teachers, police or town employees, deserve the security of a retirement with dignity. They deserve that the NH Retirement System invest their pension in a responsible way, not by placing artificial constraints on what can be considered. Granite Staters who have contributed to and receive pensions deserve the best outcome possible. It is clear from states that have restricted investment policies in this way, it only costs the state in lost earnings and that the pension system sees no benefit
We urge you to vote inexpedient to legislate on HB1267.
President, AFT-New Hampshire