FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jan. 11, 2017
Contact: Robbie Sherwood
PHOENIX, State Capitol – This morning, Representative Athena Salman and allies urged Chairman David Livingston of the Appropriations Committee to hear two bills that would protect the state’s pension funds. Representative Salman submitted two bills, HB 2634 and 2639, that would protect state pension funds from being siphoned by exorbitant fees. One bill, in particular, enjoys strong bipartisan support. Chairman Livingston has refused to add the bills to the committee’s agenda, leaving Arizona’s pensions vulnerable to predatory financial advisers.
Representative Salman called on the chairman to take action in the face of the state’s pension crisis, “We need to pay our pension obligations, not line the pockets of private equity firms and other Wall Street bankers. My bills would provide the transparency we need to do just that.”
CASE (Central Arizonans for a Sustainable Economy) Executive Director Brendan Walsh joined Rep. Salman’s call. “The voters of Arizona have empowered the state legislature to protect its tax dollars and use them wisely. It’s shocking that we don’t know how much money is being diverted from retired workers to private equity managers.”
UNITE HERE Local 11 Vice President Betty Guardado also spoke. “We deal with private equity companies in our hotels. They are squeezing Arizona tax payers just like they squeeze our members.”
Arizona faces a crippling challenge to meet its obligations to its retired workers. The state legislature has invested a large portion of its pension with private equity firms in an attempt to keep the system afloat. Those funds come with hefty fees, little transparency, and tax loopholes for the firm’s executives.
In 2008, the Arizona State Retirement Systems committed $100 million to private equity firm CBRE Global Investors.[i] The firm manages $87 billion around the world.[ii] CBRE boasted that it collected $1.1 billion in carried interest and fee payments from investors from 2006 to 2010, when Arizonans were struggling in the Great Recession.[iii]
Arizonans have no idea how much of the $1.1 billion collected by CBRE came out of their pockets. And thanks to the “carried interest tax loophole”, CBRE executives got a $42.1 million tax break from 2006 to 2010. Representative Salman’s bills address these problems.
HB 2634: The Investment Fee Transparency Act
Arizona workers depend on our public pension funds when they retire, but the private equity firms managing their money are not required to disclose the fees they charge. HB 2634, the Investment Fee Transparency Act, would change that, shining a light on fees paid to private equity firms so Arizona workers can determine if they’re getting the best deal possible. Every dollar of Arizona pension fund money that goes to fees is a dollar that doesn’t go to a retired Arizona worker providing for their family.
HB 2639: The Carried Interest Tax Fairness Act
Currently, private equity executives take advantage of the carried interest loophole to slash taxes they pay on performance bonuses from 39.6% to 20%.[iv] HB 2639, the Carried Interest Tax Fairness Act, would impose a surtax on personal income equal to the taxes private equity executives should be paying to the federal government and send that money to the state’s general fund.
[i] Pitchbook reports re CBRE Global Investors fundraising