It has been charged that the S.C. Retirement System Investment Commission has been failing to serve the interests of the state's retirees.
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 in terms of performance. This lack of judgment and oversight in the commission is leaving South Carolina with the bill. If these troubles continue, retirees will be stuck with smaller pensions, 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 a poor structure and lack of oversight. The commissioners, especially Chairman Reynolds Williams, have absolute control over the nearly $27 billion. The commission operates independently of the state treasurer, governor or any other body that could bring some valuable oversight to their actions. We need serious and meaningful reforms at the commission.
Sen. Kevin Bryant, an Anderson pharmacist, and other lawmakers, need to understand how unaccountable this pension board is to the people of South Carolina. Certainly, Bryant would not charge customers at his pharmacy three times the average price for an inferior prescription.
Only when members of the Senate Finance Committee support real reforms will we finally get relief from the commission's irresponsible behavior.
David J. Ralff