By Paul Gable
An agreement between S.C. Treasurer Curtis Loftis and the S.C. Retirement System Investment Commission (SCRSIC) is expected to be finalized tomorrow allowing four members of Loftis’ staff greater access to supporting investment documents of the state’s public pension fund.
Loftis has already signed the agreement and the SCRSIC board, on which Loftis serves, is expected to vote its approval tomorrow.
Since taking office nearly three years ago, Loftis sought to have members of his staff in the Treasurer’s Office get greater access to SCRSIC documents in order to help him (Loftis) conduct proper due diligence on investment decisions by the commission.
South Carolina’s public pension funds have routinely ranked near the bottom of similar funds in performance while ranking near the top of fees paid. It could be said South Carolina has paid the most to get the least results.
Loftis has criticized this trend, the SCRSIC veil of secrecy surrounding its investment decisions and the travel and perks SCRSIC commissioners and staffers have received from the investment industry.
The investment commission currently oversees approximately $25 billion in pension fund assets. The fund has a shortfall of approximately $18 billion when measured against future liabilities (future pension payments to current public employees covered by the system).
Unless the shortfall is seriously reduced, a large tax increase looms in the future, for S.C. taxpayers, in order to meet the obligations of the public pension system.
The agreement is a win for Loftis and his staff, which will now have greater access to monitor the work of the SCRSIC. Loftis’ primary constitutional duty is to provide oversight and accountability for the investment of public funds, of which the pension fund is one of the largest.
I take exception to your title for this piece. Transparency does not equate to Accountability. He might have access to the documents, but that doesn’t mean anything is likely to change. For example, we know about Chambergate, who and what was done, but no one has been held responsible. Transparency without Accountability. Just because it is wrong and we know about it don’t mean jack in South Carolina.