Pennsylvania school pension fund to divest millions of Russian assets – CBS Pittsburgh
HARRISBURG (KDKA) — The state public school employee pension board voted late Thursday afternoon to divest — or sell — all pension funds invested in Russia or Belarus.
KDKA editor Jon Delano was the first to report that the board had invested millions of dollars in Russia, reporting earlier this week that PSERS, the public school employee retirement system, had invested nearly of $300 million in Russia, much to the surprise of many teachers who had no idea that their pension money was being invested in this way.
Originally, the PSERS council did not plan to meet until March 11. But late Thursday afternoon, the council held an emergency session and took action.
By unanimous vote in a short emergency meeting, the PSERS board passed this resolution, directing that pension funds for teachers and public school employees be divested “from investments in Russia and Belarus. as quickly as possible”.
WATCH: KDKA’s Jon Delano reports
The action came shortly after Governor Tom Wolf sent a strongly worded letter urging the PSERS to “take immediate action to remove any public pension funds from Russia-related investments”, adding: “We must do what is in our power to put an end to the suffering of the Ukrainian people.
“When I was a soldier in Bosnia and saw a tragedy like this, we absolutely made the right decision [today]said Jason Davis, Chairman of the PSERS Investment Committee.
READ MORE: Millions of Pennsylvania public school pension funds are invested in Russia, with no divestment plans yet
Davis is a teacher at Penn Trafford High School.
“It’s a place that has become a pariah. Vladimir Putin has done the Russian people a disservice, and I want to make sure I say that. It’s not against the Russian people. It’s against Vladimir Putin and his regime,” Davis said.
“It was easy,” added Eric DiTullio, member of the Seneca Valley School Board and vice-chairman of the PSERS investment committee. “There hasn’t been a lot of discussion. There are not two sides. It’s right and wrong, and it’s right to part ways.
DiTullio said he was not surprised by the board’s quick action.
“It’s common sense. It was an easy thing to do,” he said.
Davis and DiTullio say the pension fund is unlikely to have lost much money if these investments were made, but if they did, there is plenty of time to recover that money.
NO MORE NEWS: Pennsylvania set to divest its holdings of Russian assets
Again, these dollars represented only half a percent of the REFP’s total investments.