In her May 30 column, Cindi Ross Scoppe targeted the S.C. Education Association and 10 other organizations to question the appropriateness of our employees participating in the state retirement plan because we are, in her words, “lobbying organizations” (“Should we subsidize pensions for 11 lobbying groups?”).
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Two points require clarification.
We are far more than a lobbying organization. We work to advance public education in South Carolina, and a portion of our mission is ensuring the legislative process provides the best resources, funding and support needed to educate children.
But yes, articulating public education interests to our lawmakers and working with them, in a fully bi-partisan manner, to ensure passage of related legislation is considered lobbying.
And we are proud of what we do. Ensuring that public educators receive pay equitable with other professions, providing the best buildings and facilities, the safest buses, the most effective accountability systems and a pension plan that provides educators with a secure retirement are just a few of the crucial education issues we diligently address at the State House.
How can anyone argue these goals are not in the best interest of our children and our state’s future?
What Ms. Scoppe didn’t spell out in her column is that the employees of these 11 organizations pay into the retirement system. All of our employees pay more than 8 percent of their paychecks, soon to be more than 9 percent, and our organization pays the full 10.9 percent employee match, which will be 18.56 percent by 2022.
We have done this for years and will continue to do this regardless of the one-time appropriation Ms. Scoppe wrote about.
The issue here is mismanagement and poor fiscal planning for the state pension system.
As a result of what Ms. Scoppe refers to as “an underfunded pension system,” the state is having to put extra money into the system to ensure that funds paid into it will someday be available to the employees who are contributing out of their own pockets.
Bernadette R. Hampton
President, S.C. Education Association