QUOTES OF THE WEEK
Should state Treasurer Curtis Loftis stay on the Retirement Investment Commission, which he says makes investments that are too risky and pays managers too much? The vote last week in the state Senate wasn’t close. Loftis’ supporters, including state Sen. Jake Knotts , of Lexington County, prevailed 34-10, but not before sometimes-pointed debate:
“The commission now unfortunately finds itself in the midst of a political campaign. Statements are being made that are simply not true. Several of these claims actually add up to allegations of incompetence at best and corruption at worst. ... Politics has no place in the investment of our retirees’ salaries.”
– State Sen. Greg Ryberg , R-Aiken
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“Taking the treasurer off is like taking the watchdog off the committee. The stock market is a rich man’s poker machine.”
– Knotts , R-Lexington
Having taken last week off in a money-saving furlough, the S.C. House returns to Columbia this week. With that in mind, a look at where members of the House and Senate will be eating this week and who will be footing the bill:
Tuesday, noon to 2 p.m. – Members of the House and Senate, luncheon, for Epworth Children’s Home, sponsored by the S.C. Conference of United Methodist Women.
Tuesday, 6-8 p.m. – Members of the House, Senate and staff, reception, Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, sponsored by the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina.
Wednesday, 8-10 a.m. – Members of the House, Senate and staff, breakfast, Room 112, Blatt Building, sponsored by the S.C. Association of Heating and Air Conditioning Contractors.
Wednesday, noon to 2 p.m. – Members of the House and staff, luncheon, Room 112, Blatt Building, sponsored by the S.C. Public Defender Association
Wednesday, 6-7 p.m. – Members of the House, Senate and staff, reception at the Embassy Suites Hotel, sponsored by the S.C. Association of Counties.
Wednesday, 7-9 p.m. – Members of the House, Senate and staff, reception at the Summit Club, sponsored by the Carolinas Associated General Contractors
Thursday, 8-10 a.m. – Members of the House, breakfast, Room 112, Blatt Building, sponsored by the S.C. Nursery and Landscape Association
Restructuring: State senators unanimously approved the largest overhaul of state government in decades. The vote returns to the House a bill abolishing the Budget and Control Board and putting many of its duties under the governor’s jurisdiction. The House approved a very different version last year. The measure would eliminate the 1,000-employee Budget and Control Board, as of January 2013 and divvy up its responsibilities. Workers will be dispersed as well; senators don’t expect job losses.
Law enforcement priorities: Bills that would clear up South Carolina’s law against human trafficking and levy harsher sentences for some murders are among a 10-point legislative wish list presented by the state’s top prosecutor. Among the proposals that Attorney General Alan Wilson said have the support of prosecutors and local police agencies is a bill that would make a prison sentence of life without parole mandatory for some murder cases, including cases of kidnapping, armed robbery or where the victim is a child age 11 or under. There is also a proposal that would clear up the state’s prohibition on human trafficking, a law Wilson said is needed to bring South Carolina in line with other states in how the problem is handled.
Education goals: South Carolina’s education system needs dramatic improvement for the state to compete economically, according to the Education Oversight Committee. Its report, titled “A Wake-Up Call for South Carolina,” shows the state is falling behind on its benchmarks and, without changes, won’t meet goals set for 2020. The “2020 Vision” focuses on four areas: reading proficiency, high school graduation, workforce readiness and failing schools.