With Pennsylvania facing a multibillion-dollar structural deficit and legislative majorities firmly against broad-based tax increases, Gov. Tom Wolf has resorted to some creative money management in his 2017-18 budget proposal.
One of those accounting tricks is consolidating the investment offices that oversee two of the commonwealth’s biggest funds.
Although the savings won’t be huge, the proposal would represent a marked shift in how Pennsylvania manages its money.
The State Employee Retirement System and the Public School Employee Retirement System control about $27 billion and $52 billion, respectively.
Wolf’s proposal is fairly broad. He wants to consolidate both funds’ investment offices — a move the Office of the Budget said may save around $200 million annually — and $3 billion over the next 30 years.
While the board of each fund would still make independent decisions about how to manage the money, the combined offices would be required to reduce investment management fees.
That would likely mean spending less state money on outside money managers, among other things.
Newly elected state treasurer Joe Torsella said Wolf’s proposal could well be a way to “achieve greater scale and better efficiencies to lower investment and administrative costs.”
He added that he’s taking similar measures with the treasury’s funds.
A Public School Employee System representative said it’s received little specific information from the governor, but it’s open to lowering costs.
She noted, in combining the investment offices, the administration would have to be careful not to violate federal laws or create any “fiduciary conflicts and concerns.”
Wolf would need legislative approval to carry out the consolidation.