The Buzz

December 6, 2013

STATE HOUSE: Senate begins investigation of pension system

The Buzz

A blog from The State's political team of Cassie Cope, Jamie Self and Andy Shain. Email tips to thebuzz@thestate.com.

Thursday, a special Senate subcommittee met for the first time to begin its investigation of the state's retirement system.

The committee heard testimony from state Inspector General Patrick Maley, who gave Senators an overview of his report looking into state Treasurer Curtis Loftis' concerns that the investment commission was breaking the law.

Maley found no evidence of criminal activity.

"The assault on RSIC employees not only hurts them but also hurts the half a million plan participants for whom they, and I, work," Ryberg told The Buzz in an email. "My hope is that people will stop broadcasting proven falsehoods and stop hurting our state employees and retirees."

But the committee has yet to take up Loftis' other concerns: namely that South Carolina spends too much on fees. The Investment Commission's management fees have increased from $1 million in 1998 to more than $420 million in 2013. Meanwhile, the commission's investment returns are below the national average of other public pension plans.

"We look forward to the Senate examining these proven facts: that South Carolinians pay the highest percentage of fees in the country (and) perform in the bottom 20 percent in returns," Alex Stroman, Loftis' spokesman, said.

Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Richland and a member of the commission, said the fees "seem on its surface to be very, very high."

"But again, I don't know all the details. So I am going to be very objective as I listen and as I get into that," Jackson said.

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