The state of Texas invests billions of dollars through its public pension funds, racking up sizeable shares in publicly traded companies.
With major positions in public companies come important shareholder votes. After recent reporting revealed some of those votes were going against the interests of the state, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is speaking out.
Texas has two statewide public pension funds. Teachers and other school administrators are managed by the Teacher Retirement System, while other state employees fall under the Employees Retirement System.
Recently, the Texas Public Policy Foundation reported on a series of votes taken by ERS proxies at ExxonMobil, as leftist activists worked to pass a series of resolutions calling for the company to institute extreme environmental policies in a strategy called environmental, social, and governance investing (ESG).
Just last year, however, the state Legislature overwhelmingly passed legislation to counter ESG activism and affirm its support for energy companies in its investment portfolio.
“I am outraged by news that the Employee Retirement System of Texas (ERS) has voted by proxy for numerous shareholder resolutions that go against the spirit of laws passed by the 87th Texas Legislature,” said Patrick. “Moving forward, ERS has pledged to review and modify its voting policies with its voting proxy to address my concerns.”
“Our various investment funds’ focus should be on getting the best return on their funds. If companies they invest in take positions that harm Texas, they need to re-evaluate those investments.”
While Patrick’s office told Texas Scorecard he was specifically referring to the TPPF report on ERS’ ExxonMobil votes, the position could go further.
Just last month, Patrick suggested that Texas should remove its $93 million in investments in Disney following the company’s vocal opposition to anti-grooming legislation in Florida.