At the Statehouse, GOP leaders have adopted a list of state fiscal reform ideas from the state treasurer and this session are trying to enact them into law. They include increasing the size of the state General Reserve Fund, delaying the use of the Capital Reserve Fund as a last resort, lowering a budget cut trigger for the Budget and Control Board, and creating a commission to streamline government.
This week, as House members worked out the budget, another idea by Treasurer Converse Chellis was in the mix, the elimination of the TERI program—is the state teacher and employee retention incentive program. The bill closes the plan to new enrollees in the new fiscal year.
“The TERI program has just not worked. Initial thought process was there that sounded good and felt good, but when you really got into it, it ended up -it’s really not what South Carolina needed to do and it’s costing us a lot of money,” says Chellis.
The TERI program allows state employees to retire and escrow retirement checks while they work for up to five years.
Chellis says that the TERI system has been changed and abused. “The greatest abuse is someone goes on TERI and at the end of the TERI program they want to continue to work. They don’t really retire. And that’s part of the abuse. They come right back, and it’s tying up state funds.”
Chellis also recommends that the legislature reinstate 30-year retirement, starting with new employees.
“A couple of years ago we took care of the plan as it is now, and stabilized it, and have really done a good job of fixing that part. But what we really haven’t done is look at the system twenty, twenty-five, thirty years from now, and we want to shore up the system even more.”
Chellis says that the 30-year retirement more closely mirrors corporate retirement. “You might want to extend it maybe longer, -thirty, thirty-two years. People are living longer, they’re wanting to work longer. We need to , thirty years out from now, I’m sure it’s going to be a lot different than it is today. So we need to be looking at those things.”
There are other bills Chellis has recommended that would increase the state’s General Reserve Fund from 3 percent to 5 percent.