The Comptroller’s duty as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System (SRPS) is one of its most important. The SRPS administers retirement, disability, and death benefits on behalf of more than 400,000 active, vested, and retired State employees, teachers, state police, correctional officers, other law enforcement officers, judges and legislators. The Board supports the Executive Director, Chief Investment Officer, and staff to ensure we are prudently investing the earnings of members ($55 billion and counting) and paying out timely and accurate benefits. Brooke will work with the other Board members to reduce fees, ensure that any outside investment management firms reflect the diversity of our state, and ensure our investments are prudent while also reflecting our progressive values.
Protecting our Pension Commitments
As Comptroller, the sustainability of the pension system is a top priority for Brooke. The Pension Reforms of 2011 put in place a plan to reach a goal of full funding by 2039. Brooke has been a strong voice on the Oversight Committee for the past six years and will continue to be so if elected Comptroller. Brooke will be a strong and independent voice on behalf of Maryland’s pensioners. She will advocate for full funding of the system, the health of the system, and Maryland’s commitments of a secure retirement to our public servants.
Reducing Fees & Increasing Transparency & Diversity
As Comptroller, Brooke would provide independent oversight as a pension board trustee. Brooke will closely monitor fund management contracts to reduce management fees to save the system money. She will continue to advocate for robust transparency of the pension system’s investments so that every Marylander can easily know how their money is being invested and by whom; information on the demographics and firm size of our investment managers and companies will be made available on the SRPS website and in the Annual Report. Our fund managers must reflect the diversity of the state, and our Terra Maria program for emerging managers should grow in size to ensure a new and diverse group of investors in Maryland is ready to work with our fund.
Investments to Reflect the Reality of Climate Change
Currently, the Board of Trustees of the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System is not required to consider climate risk as the investment risk it is. Climate change is a reality in many aspects of life and now must be taken into account as we are looking at financial forecasts as well. Other states have begun to commit to moving their funds to be carbon neutral by divesting from gas and oil companies if those companies cannot come up with legitimate business plans to align with the Paris climate accords. Recently, New York’s Comptroller committed to divesting all of its $226 bn pension fund by 2040. The fossil fuel industry has been one of the worst-performing sectors of the American economy and it is time for all pension funds, including Maryland’s, to stand up and commit its funds elsewhere. As a result, on February 22, 2022, Brooke presented legislation (HB 740) to remedy this situation. This proposed legislation codifies climate risk as an investment risk and it requires the Board to to consider and report on the impact of climate change on our pension investments and to monitor net-zero aligned investments and climate solutions.
- Since 2015, Brooke has served on the Special Joint Committee on Pensions for the State of Maryland. The Special Joint Committee on Pensions reviews issues affecting state pension systems. The committee was originally created to research and report on the cost, sustainability, and competitiveness of state-funded retirement benefits (while keeping in mind the system’s long-term funding). This experience provides Brooke insight onto what helps and what harms the state pension fund.
- Since 2018, as part of the State Retirement & Pension System, Brooke has served on the Objective Criteria Committee. On the Objective Criteria Committee, Brooke works to develop objective, performance-based criteria to support the Chief Investment Officer and the Investment Division staff.