Gov. Nikki Haley has changed the leadership at the State Retirement System, but the state treasurer says there are retirement funding issues that need to be addressed now by the state Legislature.
Treasurer Curtis Loftis took on the state Budget and Control Board–and lost–over addressing a recurrent shortage in the retirement system. He says the amount has been growing for the past five to six years.
We have an agenda review meeting a week or two before the board meets, and we always discuss the agendas, the principals and our agents. And we brought that up, and we lost the vote 4-1; it was the same vote as today. And I just think it’s a lack of transparency. We have got to meet and talk about these issues in public. By not voting on that today, by not receiving it here, it weakens our hand to go out and make sure that the people understand that they have an $88 million unfunded liability for one year alone.
Loftis calls this a missed chance for the board to send the issue back to the Legislature. Haley, who has just replaced the head of the state’s retirement system, says she has a different approach:
I, in good conscience, will not put $100 million in the hands of the taxpayer, and I also am fearful for the state employees because they are thinking they’re going to get some retirement benefits that aren’t there. And so what we have to do is bring in new leadership, bring in a new actuary, get new numbers, and actually sit down and say not just what’s going to fix it for this year, but what is going to fix this for the long-term to get it solvent again. I think that we’re all saying the same thing.
Loftis says the state should not let the tax bill keep building up, and that if brought to their attention, lawmakers could address it in the budget.
I am not persuaded that we can have new leadership and a new actuary completely redo the system in two months. I just don’t think it’s going to happen. I’ve lost the battle, so I’ll be quiet now. But I just think we ought to put the people on notice that there’s a tax bill coming, we have options, and those options are going away.
Haley’s prompt response–“Can’t is not an option.”
Loftis cited a report prepared for the state by Cavanaugh Macdonald Consulting, a private actuarial firm.