(a) The Legislature hereby finds and declares that all the public employees covered by the Public Employees Retirement System, the Teachers Retirement System, the West Virginia State Police Retirement System, the Death, Disability and Retirement Fund of the Division of Public Safety, the Judges' Retirement System and the Deputy Sheriffs Retirement System should benefit from a prudent and conscientious staff of financial professionals dedicated to the administration, investment and management of those employees and employers financial contributions and that an independent board and staff should be immune to changing political climates and should provide a stable and continuous source of professional financial investment and management.
(b) The Legislature finds and declares that teachers and other public employees throughout the state are experiencing economic difficulty and that in order to reduce this economic hardship on these dedicated public employees and to help foster sound financial practices, the West Virginia Investment Management Board may develop, implement and maintain an efficient and modern system for the investment and management of the state's money, except those moneys managed in accordance with article six-c of this chapter. The Legislature further finds that in order to implement these sound fiscal policies, the West Virginia Investment Management Board shall operate as an independent board with its own full-time staff of financial professionals, immune to changing political climates, in order to provide a stable and continuous source of professional financial management.
(c) The Legislature hereby finds and declares further that experience has demonstrated that prudent investment provides diversification and beneficial return not only for public employees but for all citizens of the state and that in order to have access to this sound fiscal policy, public employee and employer contributions to the 401(a) plans are declared to be made to an irrevocable trust on behalf of each plan, available for no use or purpose other than for the benefit of those public employees.
(d) The Legislature hereby finds and declares further that the Workers' Compensation Fund and Coal-Workers' Pneumoconiosis Fund are trust funds to be used exclusively for those workers, miners and their beneficiaries who have sacrificed their health in the performance of their jobs and further finds that the assets available to pay awarded benefits should be prudently invested so that awards may be paid.
(e) The Legislature hereby finds and declares further that an independent public body corporate with appropriate governance is the best means of assuring prudent financial management of these funds under rapidly changing market conditions and regulations.
(f) The Legislature hereby finds and declares further that in accomplishing this purpose, the West Virginia Investment Management Board, created and established by this article, is acting in all respects for the benefit of the state's public employees and ultimately the citizens of the state and the West Virginia Investment Management Board may act as trustee of the irrevocable trusts created by this article and to manage and invest other state funds.
(g) The Legislature hereby finds and declares further that the standard of care and prudence applied to trustees, the conduct of the affairs of the irrevocable trusts created by this article and the investment of other state funds is intended to be that applied to the investment of funds as described in the "Uniform Prudent Investor Act" codified as article six-c, chapter forty-four of this code and as described in section eleven of this article.
(h) The Legislature further finds and declares that the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals declared the West Virginia Trust Fund Act unconstitutional in its decision rendered on the March 28, 1997, to the extent that it authorized investments in corporate stock, but the court also recognized that there were other permissible constitutional purposes of the West Virginia Trust Fund Act and that it is the role of the Legislature to determine those purposes consistent with the court's decision and the Constitution of West Virginia.
(i) The Legislature hereby further finds and declares that it is in the best interests of the state and its citizens to create a new investment management board in order to: (1) Be in full compliance with the provisions of the Constitution of West Virginia; and (2) protect all existing legal and equitable rights of persons who have entered into contractual relationships with the West Virginia Board of Investments and the West Virginia Trust Fund.