Election 2012: Investment Policy For State Universities

Senate Joint Resolution 8223 is being sent to the voters this November. While it’s a passed state law, it has to be sent to the voters because it amends the state constitution to allow public money controlled by the state universities to be invested in a manner similar to how money in public pension and other funds are invested.

The main argument against allowing this is that the state universities will send their money off for investment and gamble it in the stock market. To support this claim, those opposed note how much money the state investment board (which would also control these investments) lost during the recent economic recession. I find this a pretty unconvincing argument: almost all investors lost money during the recent downturn. The reason to allow investment is that even in good times, you’re going to lose money (relative to inflation) having it just sit in the bank.

I’ll probably vote yes on this one. Normally I would default to voting against an initiative, but this isn’t a typical one. Since the state constitution specifically limits what money can invest public money, adding university funds requires an amendment … which has to go to the voters. I see little additional risk in allowing a state board to invest education money in the same way it’s already investing those institutions’ retirement funds.

This post is part of series on the 2012 election, focused on the state of Washington. I highly recommend having a look at the state’s main voter guide before casting your ballot.