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Singleton, Wimberly & Watson Coleman Bill to Foster State Pension Fund-Investment in In-State Infrastructure Projects Clears Assembly Panel

Bill would use pension funds to help fix state’s aging infrastructure, create jobs and stimulate economy

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Benjie E. Wimberly and Bonnie Watson Coleman to establish a state pension fund preference for certain in-state infrastructure investment was approved Thursday by an Assembly committee.

The purpose of the bill (A-4028) is to put the capital of the state pension fund to work supporting New Jersey infrastructure projects so as to generate economic development benefits for the state at large while increasing the competitiveness of returns for fund beneficiaries.

“Putting band-aids on infrastructure problems in dire need of repair is not a solution. It is more expensive in the long run, it affects the quality of life of our residents and undermines our economy,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “This bill would help fund needed upgrades to the state’s infrastructure, while providing better returns for pension beneficiaries, all of which helps invigorate our economy.”

Subject to the Director of the Division of Investment’s fiduciary duties, the bill creates a state pension fund investment preference for in-state infrastructure projects relative to comparable out-of-state projects. By directing investment in New Jersey infrastructure over out-of-state projects, the bill promotes a synergistic return on state pension fund investment that produces economic development benefits for the community at large and increasingly competitive returns for pension fund beneficiaries.

“A sturdy infrastructure is essential to our economic success and a high quality of life for our residents. We must stop with the temporary fixes which end up making needed repairs that much more expensive,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This would help us address the state’s infrastructural needs while increasing returns on investment of public pension funds.”

“One report earlier this year put the cost of fixing New Jersey’s infrastructure at $70 billion. The state cannot afford to keep putting these crucial repairs on the back burner,” said Watson Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “Giving in-state infrastructure projects an investment edge would help fund badly needed upgrades to our infrastructure, which would help create jobs and spur economic growth.”

The bill was modeled after a recent enactment of California designed to support economic recovery efforts.

The bill was released by the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee.