Cuomo: Pension Fund Review Part Of “Routine Examinations” (UPDATED)

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The governor fielded questions today on an upstate New York radio show. Gannett’s Aaron Scholder reports:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today that a probe into the state’s pension fund by the Department of Financial Services is part of “routine examinations.”

Speaking during an appearance on “The Capital Pressroom” radio show on WCNY, Cuomo said the outside examination of the fund was not in response to a report that scrutinized the pension fund’s reliance on Wall Street investment firms. The state pension fund is overseen by Thomas DiNapoli.

The report, which found payments to outside investment managers increased from $162 million in 2007 to $425 million last year, was released on Monday by the Independent Democratic Conference, a caucus of four Democrats in the state. DiNapoli, however, fired back, calling the report “irresponsible” and saying it was filled with “half truths.”

“In the law, they do periodic examinations of the comptroller’s office, and that is the examination that’s going on now,” Cuomo said.

UPDATE: A spokeswoman for the comptroller’s office emailed to clarify that the Department of Financial Services review was already scheduled to take place in 2012. It’s laid out in a serious of reforms to the pension fund enacted shortly after DiNapoli took office.

Cuomo said he would prefer to not have a sole trustee control the state’s funds, outlining a plan to have a board handle the duties instead. DiNapoli and Cuomo have been locked in a battle regarding the governor’s proposal for a new pension tier, which would include a 401(k)-style option for new state workers.

“I’ve proposed a long time ago, just a board of directors, qualified people. And the board would work with the comptroller to make the decisions,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo also addressed concerns over a bill that would expand the DNA database in the state, saying the state’s district attorneys want a bill, but it is bogged down by the Legislature.

“Everybody wants to do this, it’s just one of those Albany situations where it hasn’t happened,” he said.

Groups such as The Innocence Project say they would support a measure if it helps to prove the innocence of those already incarcerated.

The bill would require those who have committed felonies or misdemeanors to give a DNA sample to the database. That sample could be used to solve a past crime or exonerating someone who is wrongfully committed, but critics say it doesn’t give enough access to the accused.

Cuomo said attempted expansions and additions to the bill over the years have delayed its passage.

“Let’s limit this bill to DNA-related items. Videotaped confessions, that’s nice but it’s different. Let’s try to get something done,” he said.

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