FLORIDA CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
ALEX SINK'S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

Volume 5, Number 37, September  12, 2008

HOME


This week, Floridians honor the memories of September 11 victims and their families. Many of Florida’s firefighters and law enforcement officers gave their time and their hearts to help our fellow citizens following that sad day in 2001.

In light of those contributions, the New York Fire Commissioner donated an iron memorial to Augie Valdes, Fire Protection Specialist, and the Tampa State Fire Marshal’s office in remembrance of the fallen heroes that served our country in an hour of great need. Above the memorial hangs our nation’s flag which carries the names of each firefighter and law enforcement officer that lost their lives in an effort to save others during the tragedy.

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who also serves as the State Fire Marshal, holds a special place in her heart for those men and women who risked their lives for others during the events of September 11, 2001.

Participating in Jacksonville's Fallen Heroes Breakfast sponsored by the Jacksonville Firefighters' and Policemen's Pension Fund, CFO Sink said,  “The numbers 9/11 will forever be of historical significance to our country.  But, the numbers we all need to remember are 24/7 –  the numbers that represent the dedication and spirit of our professional and volunteer firefighters and volunteers who are committed to serving our country every day of every year.”

Just this week, two Lauderhill firefighters were declared heroes when they didn’t hesitate to run into a burning house to save a 10-month-old baby girl.  After the rescue, the firefighters, Jacob Mardhese and Anthony Busk, told reporters covering the scene that they love their job because of the chance to rescue someone, to save a life.  Busk said, "It feels good."

The State of Florida is forever grateful for the service and commitment of our firefighters and law enforcement officers. Let this seventh anniversary of 9/11 be a reminder of what they do on our behalf every day.


CFO SINK: FLORIDA TREASURY FIRST TO REVIEW CLIMATE RISK
Florida establishing new benchmark for climate risk and opportunity

Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced that Florida is the first Treasury in the nation to formally analyze investments for the financial impacts of climate change. In an effort to better protect the Treasury portfolio from emerging risks, CFO Sink has launched a semi-annual review process to assess how public fund managers incorporate climate risk in portfolio holdings as part of prudent investment management.

CFO Sink has partnered with RiskMetrics Group to analyze the corporate bond holdings of 20 external fund managers and one internal fund manager. Corporate bonds represent approximately $3.4 billion of Florida’s $24 billion in Treasury funds. Fund managers that have higher composite scores on their corporate investments have selected companies with governance practices in place that make them better positioned to meet the challenges and opportunities related to climate change.

“Climate risks are converging not only on our state, but also on the investments we manage on behalf of our citizens,” said CFO Sink, who oversees the Treasury and Department of Financial Services. “As Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, I’m constantly looking for new tools to identify emerging financial risks to better protect taxpayer dollars in the Florida Treasury.”

The assessment process is guided by “Climate Change Governance Framework,” an emerging standard endorsed by CFO Sink and the Investor Network on Climate Risk, a national network of investors focused on the business impacts of climate change. This framework connects corporate governance and climate change through examination of board oversight activities, management execution, public disclosure, emissions accounting and strategic planning, with an emphasis on targeted greenhouse gas emission reductions and pursuit of new climate-oriented business opportunities.

By scoring Florida’s fund managers on portfolio climate risk, CFO Sink is establishing a benchmark that will be tracked over time. While financial returns will remain the primary consideration in evaluating fund manager performance, climate risk is being added as an integral component of prudent portfolio management. During the semi-annual review process, Treasury fund managers will be asked about their methods and capabilities to analyze climate risks, with an expectation that they will be able to demonstrate improvement in scores over time.

“Sea level rise and increased hurricane activity pose serious physical risks to a coastal state like Florida,” said Doug Cogan, Head of Climate Risk Management at RiskMetrics Group. “Savvy financial leaders also recognize the monetary risks and opportunities presented by climate change making this the time to align investment strategies with a carbon-constrained future.”

CFO Sink endorsed the fund manager engagement process at the Investor Summit on Climate Risk at the United Nations in February 2008, attended by more than 450 financial advisers and corporate leaders from around the world. CFO Sink also joined with state treasurers and pension fund leaders with more than $1.5 trillion in assets under management from California, New York, North Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Illinois and a half-dozen other states to sign on to a “Climate Change Action Plan” to boost fund investments in energy efficiency and clean energy technologies as well as require tougher scrutiny of carbon-intensive investments that may pose long-term financial risks.

CFO SINK PROMOTES MONEY SMART FINANCIAL LITERACY TRAINING 

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink this week promoted the importance of increasing financial literacy at instructor training sessions in Pensacola and Jacksonville.

Working in partnership with the United Way of Santa Rosa County, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta – New Orleans Branch, CFO Sink delivered opening remarks to the training participants in Pensacola on Wednesday.

On Thursday, CFO Sink opened the  program in Jacksonville in  partnership with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta – Jacksonville Branch.

Participants learned the FDIC’s Money Smart program, which helps adults with little or no banking experience enhance money skills, build financial knowledge, develop financial confidence and use banking services effectively.

Volunteers from various non-profit and community organizations who completed the training were certified to give one-hour financial literacy courses using the FDIC’s Money Smart Curriculum.


CFO SINK LAUNCHES LUNCH AND LEARN SERIES TO HELP STATE EMPLOYEES STRETCH HOUSEHOLD BUDGETS

As Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, Alex Sink’s job is to safeguard tax dollars and “count the beans” for the state’s government. Knowing that many state employees – like the government they work for – are struggling with rising costs and budget crunches, Sink has launched a series of lunchtime programs to help state employees become the CFO of their families.

The Lunch and Learn series began in the summer and, following rave reviews, a third was held in the Cabinet Room of the Capitol. Participants brought their lunch and the program was broadcast on the Florida Channel.

“All Floridians are feeling the economic pinch and none more so than our state employees, who will receive no cost-of-living increases in their salaries this year,” said CFO Sink, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. “We all could benefit from tips on how to cut costs, stay within a budget and continue to provide for our families.”

The title of Friday’s program is “Become the CFO of Your Family - Slice Your Grocery Bill in Half.” The program will be televised to all Capitol employees via The Florida Channel and will be posted on the department’s website. Additional programs are planned to be held quarterly on a variety of topics.

CFO’s Deputy CFO Tammy Teston initiated and leads the series. A former banker and businesswoman, Teston served as the senior vice president and market director for Bank of America Investment Services in Sarasota. She now helps Sink oversee the following divisions: Agent and Agencies; Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services; Rehabilitation and Liquidation; and the My Safe Florida Home program.

SAVING ENERGY, SAVING MONEY

Energy tips  for Florida families - these actions represent ways to behave kindly toward Mother Earth, AND save money as well as energy.

Presented by CFO Alex Sink's science advisor Meg Lowman, Ph.D., on the faculty at New College of Florida. Dr. Lowman has written numerous award-winning books and is an expert on the rain forests of the world.

Install a rain barrel.  In these times of water-use restrictions and energy-conscious water consumption many Floridians struggle to keep their lawns and gardens green and healthy. One solution is the use of a rain barrel. Rain barrels are a thing of the past that can be put to good use today.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency estimates that seven billion gallons of water a day are used in landscaping and gardening. They have also estimated that the average American family uses approximately 400 gallons of water a day, 30-40 percent of which goes towards lawn and garden maintenance.

In one summer alone, a rain barrel can catch up to 3,000 gallons of water. Not only is the water caught by a rain barrel a great way to cut back on consumption and water bills, but rain barrels also help prevent pollutants from reaching our local waterways.

Consumers can build their own rain barrels using a plastic garbage can and several pieces of hardware that can be found at your local hardware store. Keep several things in mind when considering building your own rain barrel:

  • Place it where water can flow into the barrel from your downspout and/or gutter
  • Install an overflow valve to release excess water should it become full
  • Attach a spigot so that you can put a watering can underneath and fill it up
  • Place a cover on your rain barrel so that bugs and other wildlife can’t get inside
  • Never drink the water from your rain barrel or give the water to your pets due to pollutants from your roof.

STATE FIRE MARSHAL’S OFFICE ASSISTING IN THIRD ANNUAL VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER TRAINING

The memories of 9-11 will never be forgotten and have become synonymous with the dedication of our nation’s firefighters. In honor of those who gave everything they had to rescue their fellow citizens, the third annual Northwest Florida Volunteer Firefighter Weekend will be held September 19 -22, 2008, at the Okaloosa/Walton College, 100 College Blvd., in Niceville, Florida.

Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who also serves as State Fire Marshal and oversees the Florida State Fire College, is a proud supporter of the annual Florida Volunteer Firefighter Weekend. The event offers Florida’s volunteer firefighters access to training, keeping them up-to-date on new firefighting techniques so they can better protect their communities and themselves.

“The State Fire Marshal’s office looks forward to playing a key role in this annual training experience,” said CFO Sink. “It is a pleasure knowing we are able to give back, in the form of free training, to our many dedicated volunteer firefighters who give so much to Florida communities.”

Starting Friday evening, firefighters from across Florida will kick-off the weekend of free training with an extrication extravaganza. A record number of participants is expected. Participants will have the opportunity to view and use some of the newest technology available for rescuing those trapped by accidents and disasters, manmade or natural.

A new 40-hour Fire Service Course Delivery class is being offered this year that starts on Wednesday, Sept. 17. The weekend portion hosts classes ranging from four to 16 hours in length. Live fire evolutions, a National Fire Academy program, a wild lands fire class, a firefighter safety and survival program and a highway safety operations class are just a few of the program’s offerings.


CFO SINK ADDRESSES TALLAHASSEE WOMEN LAWYERS

On September 10, Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink served as the keynote speaker for the Tallahassee Women Lawyers (TWL) monthly membership meeting.  CFO Sink spoke on the theme "Balancing It All While Ascending the Corporate Ladder."  The theme coincides with the platform of TWL President Kim Driggers – “Pursuing a Healthy Balance between Self, Family & Career.”   

The Tallahassee Women Lawyers group was established in 1980 and exists to promote the status of women in the legal community and to create, improve, and maintain supportive networks among women in the legal profession through mutual cooperation, respect, and good friendship. 


My Family CFO
Are you the chief financial officer of your family? Are you always looking out for the best deals, wise investments and smart moves for your family's financial security?

As your family's fiscal watch dog, keep an eye on this column for money-smart ideas from the Chief Financial Officer of Florida, Alex Sink.

IDEA: Take advantage of coupons

This week’s financial tip comes straight from a Department of Financial Services employee. Deputy Chief Financial Officer Tammy Teston has helped numerous state employees cut their monthly grocery bills nearly in half with her “Become the CFO of Your Family” lecture series.

Many people have access to, and are even inundated with, grocery store coupons. Taking advantage of the retailer and manufacturer coupons can help us cut our costs in the checkout line.

One of Tammy’s greatest pieces of advice is this: Instead of making your grocery list and then digging through the coupons to find some that work, build your list around the coupons that you have. This is the best way to maximize your savings. Also, items that you use on a regular basis should be bought while they are on sale or while there is a coupon available - called stockpiling.

For the best coupons available, search Sunday’s paper, and be sure to get your hands on the biggest paper in your area for the best deals. Also, the next time you walk into the grocery store or the drug store, pick up the circular ad for special prices. There are also a plethora of Web sites with coupons and special discount codes to be used for online shopping.  Sign up for your favorite stores' email lists and print out the coupons before you shop - 40 percent off that book you want can make your day!

So, next time you see that two-for-one sale on paper towels pick up four, and when you’re making your grocery list on Sunday morning, do it with the newspaper open to the money-saving coupons.


Consumer Services Helpline 1-877-MY-FL-CFO

Consumer eViews  MyFloridaCFO.com/PressOffice/Newsletter/