With Wolf’s encouragement, Pennsylvania teachers’ pension fund drops Russian investments

In an emergency session on Thursday, Pennsylvania’s teachers’ pension fund voted to withdraw between $270 million and $300 million in assets from Russia and Belarus.

The Board of Directors of the Public School Employees Retirement System unanimously approved the surrender resolution. He is asking the fund to sell all of its investments in both countries.

The resolution will also prevent the fund from investing in either country in the future until the board takes further action. Russia invaded Ukraine last week. Belarus, a Russian ally that borders Ukraine to the north, was a base for the invasion.

The assets are only a fraction of a fraction of the system’s $72 billion in assets, which pay for the current and future retirement of 500,000 teachers and other education workers.

But “any amount of investment in these two countries now poses an unacceptable risk,” PSERS board chairman Chris Santa Maria said at the start of the meeting, reading a prepared statement.

Pennsylvania lawmakers seek to withdraw state funds from Russia amid war in Ukraine

The action comes amid widespread action by Western governments to divest from Russia.

Pennsylvania was not immune to the surge. Over the weekend, the state Liquor Control Board, one of the biggest buyers of alcohol in the United States, dropped two brands of Russian-made vodka after pressure from lawmakers and Democratic Governor Tom Wolf.

In a Thursday letter, Wolf also called on the PSERS and its sister fund, the State Employees’ Retirement System, to get rid of Russian investments.

In an accompanying statement, Wolf said he would sign legislation banning state agencies from investing in Russia, as proposed by Republican and Democratic lawmakers. Such legislation would add Russia to a list of countries the systems can no longer do business with. The list also includes Sudan and Iran.

But in the meantime, Wolf said the PSERS and SERS should “act now where we can.”

“We must do what we can to end the suffering of the Ukrainian people,” Wolf added.

Earlier this week, SERS spokeswoman Pam Hile said the fund’s exposure to Russia-related investments amounted to a fraction of one percent. The fund planned todiscuss Russian-related investments” during a regular board meeting on Friday, Hile added.

In all, the system has nearly $40 million in assets to cover the retirements of 239,000 current and former public sector workers.

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