Fix pension system
The Legislature has no choice but to deal with the S.C. pension plan’s anticipated $20 billion shortfall. But it ought to start with the fundamental problems that led to the fiscal nightmare.
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Instead, legislators are considering a wide array of partial fixes: hiking the cigarette tax, using money from the state budget, and increasing the employer contribution (tax dollars).
Better that they study a way to forestall accruing such debt in the future: changing from the present defined benefit program to a 401(k) program for new employees whereby the employer contribution is defined instead. It is a move the vast majority of non-government employers have adopted, as have a number of states.
Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Bluffton, has said the debt must be addressed before any such change could be advanced. But delaying the conversation means continuing the practice that has led to the plan being $20 billion short — $40 billion by some measures.
Yes, it would cost money to make the transition from one system to another. And the debate will be difficult and lengthy. So lawmakers might as well start on it soon.
In addition, they should analyze the state’s generous retirement policies which allow an employee to retire with full benefits after working 28 years.
Release court records
South Carolina residents have the basic right to inspect and copy court records. This includes civil lawsuits, probate records and arrest warrants. This right to review documents is spelled out in the South Carolina Constitution.
The same right should extend to search warrants, correct? Not in Aiken County, apparently.
Aiken County Chief Magistrate Carl Insley steadfastly refused to release to the Aiken Standard copies of search warrants and returns issued shortly after the December 2015 double homicide of a Jackson couple.
Insley’s erroneous interpretation of the law is robbing the public of constitutional protections.
For nearly a year, the brutal murder of Louis and Sandra Cochran at their Green Pond Road home in Jackson has gone unsolved. The Aiken County Sheriff’s Office tells us the investigation continues, with interviews taking place as recently as late October.
That’s fine and dandy, but how can the public feel fully confident no stone has been left unturned? Perhaps information found in the warrant returns will lead to that crucial clue needed to solve the case.
That can’t happen, though, if search warrants and returns are kept under lock and key. There’s no way for the public to evaluate how the investigation is being conducted.
“It’s very easy to be perfect if nobody gets to see what you do,” said Jay Bender, attorney for the S.C. Press Association.…
It’s about holding public officials accountable. Judges should never have the power to spontaneously decide which court records are open and which ones are secret. Laws can’t be ignored if they’re inconvenient or we don’t agree with them.
The system worked
Trump has been magnanimous in victory, no longer sounding like the fiery candidate willing to say anything to spark passion in his supporters. He has praised Clinton and Obama after vilifying both on the campaign trail.
Obama and Clinton have pledged their full support to Trump in making the transition to the presidency. And the nation as a whole should do the same in giving the president-elect a chance to prove himself.
America is a great country and the electoral system is at the root of what makes it possible for candidates to fight it out in the roughest fashion until Election Day and then pledge support for the winner after the votes are counted.
The founding fathers saw the Electoral College as a tool in balancing federalism with the rights of the people in individual states. They built a system founded on constitutional principles and the rule of law. At its root is the expectation of a peaceful transfer of presidential power.
Thankfully that system serves to temper extremes, no matter the occupant of the Oval Office. The system and the winner it produced in 2016, the same as in other presidential elections, deserve support.