The Senate Finance Committee needs to support Investment Commission Reform

January 21, 2014

It has been revealed that the South Carolina Retirement System Investment Commission has been failing to serve the interests of the retirees of South Carolina. This pension board pays the highest percentage of fees in the country, which ultimately could cost both retirees and taxpayers.

Last year alone, South Carolina spent $420 million in fees, which is three-times the national average. These fees, say the commissioners, are to have higher quality investments that will help the state. However, the Commission’s results are poor – regularly performing in the bottom 20 percent of public pensions terms of performance. This lack of judgment and oversight in the Commission is leaving South Carolinians with the bill. If these troubles continue, South Carolina’s retirees will be stuck with pensions smaller than they were promised, and current retirees will have to pay more for the same benefits.

Finally, South Carolina’s $16 billion in unfunded liabilities will continue to grow. The source of these problems is an unworkable structure and lack of oversight on the Investment Commission. The commissioners, especially Chairman Reynolds Williams, have absolute control over the nearly $27 billion dollars. The commission operates independently of the state treasurer, governor, or any other body that could bring some valuable oversight to their actions. We need the Senate Finance Committee to grow the voice of the people by passing serious and meaningful reforms to the commission.

Senator Kevin Bryant, (I say this as a fan of Sen. Bryant) among others, needs to understand how unaccountable this pension board is to the people of South Carolina. Certainly, Sen. Bryant would not charge customers at his pharmacy three times the average price for an inferior prescription. Therefore, Mr. Bryant should extend the same courtesy to the hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians that are dependent on the performance of the state’s pension fund. Only when Sen. Bryant and other members of the Senate Finance Committee support real reforms will South Carolinians finally get relief from the Commission’s irresponsible investments.

Kevin S Thomas

Chairman, Fairfield County Republican Party

Vice Chairman, 5th Congressional District