While Republicans took all of the state’s constitutionally-elected offices, several positions were already decided before the night even began. One of those was state treasurer, where Republican Curtis Loftis ran unopposed in the general election.
Loftis knocked off current treasurer Converse Chellis during the Republican primary in June. He downplays the win, saying that the state was only in an anti-incumbency mood.
It wasn’t because people said, “Oh Curtis, we love you, you’re the best thing ever.” It was because people said, “We’re tired of what’s going on. We’d like to change. You’re knocking at the door. We’ll give you this time and if you don’t do well, you’ll be out in four years, too.
One advantage of not having an opponent in the general election was that Loftis had roughly six months to prepare for his transition into office. Loftis’s first term will be a difficult one, as the state will have an enormous budget shortfall.
Perhaps the biggests challenge Loftis will face is the state’s pension plan. Most experts agree the system will not be able to pay full benefits for all employees under the current model, which Governor Mark Sanford says includes $12 billion in unfunded liabilities.
Loftis says overhauling the system will take a lot of effort. One move he’d like to make is to limit benefits for future workers.
It means that we have to start bending the curve of our expenditures. For people not hired yet, for people not vested in the system, we’ve got to look at how long they’ve got to work to get into the system. We’ve got to look at how much we pay into the system. The employer pays, the employee pays. Well, the employer is… the taxpayer. The tax payer doesn’t have any money now.
Loftis says fixing the massively complicated pension system will require compromise.
We don’t want to spend our life compromising for the sake of compromise… but… if we can get 80 percent of the pension problem fixed, we need to take that 80 percent. I we keep waiting for a hundred percent, we’re never going to get it. Then, we’ll worry about the 20 percent next year.
Loftis says he looks forward to next year, but knows it will be a tough one budget-wise for South Carolina. He says he hopes people will pray for the state’s officers, and that they will act in the taxpayers’ best interests.