SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL/KGET) — As Russia continues its attack on Ukraine, California leaders are taking aim at Russia’s financial markets.

The governor and state lawmakers are calling on the state’s public employees retirement system and teachers retirement system, also known as CalPERS and CalSTRS, to pull its investments from financial institutions linked to Russia.

State Sen. David Cortese, D-San Jose, is one lawmaker in a group of bipartisan legislators putting together a bill to issue the sanction.

“They should be cut off right away,” Cortese said. “It’s really clear at this point, our worst fears about Russia and that government and dictatorial nature of it have come to roost.”

State leaders said California’s retirement systems hold about $970 billion worth of assets. They estimate between $1.5 billion to $2 billion dollars of that is linked to Russian financial markets. 

CalSTRS officials sent FOX40 the following statement:

CalSTRS stands with the Ukrainian people as they endure a horrific, unprovoked attack. Our holdings in Russia total $171.5 million as of 2/28/22, a fraction of our $319 billion portfolio. We are following developments and working closely with the Governor to ensure our actions are aligned with the state’s position. As always, our goal is to protect the pensions of California’s public educators and their beneficiaries. CalSTRS’ investment policy for mitigating environmental, social and governance risk factors, such as war, conflicts and acts of terrorism, is available online.

California State Teachers’ Retirement System

The push to pull those funds comes as Gov. Gavin Newsom sent a letter to the leaders of the retirement systems this week, urging them to immediately restrict Russian access to California’s capital and investments.

It’s unclear if the governor will take executive action. Neither CalPERS nor CalSTRS commented on the effort Wednesday.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers said their bill to put it into law will be urgent, requiring a two-thirds vote from the Legislature. It would go into effect as soon as the governor signs.

“Retirement systems here in California don’t like to have their investments strained or regulated in any way like this, this would be a complete divestment. This is an issue of freedom, human rights and democracy around the world,” Cortese said.

Lawmakers are working on scheduling a hearing on the matter soon.