updated Feb. 1
A special Senate Finance subcommittee is one step closer to concluding a summary on its findings on the state of S.C.’s $27 billion retirement fund after hearing testimony from state Treasurer Curtis Loftis Thursday.
The hearing was one of several held by the subcommittee and the second at which Loftis testified. Sen. Joel Lourie, who co-chairs the subcommittee, said after the meeting that the group will report its findings to the Finance Committee, though he declined to give details about any recommendations or legislation that might result from the hearings. The Columbia Democrat said the goal for the hearings is to get everyone on the same page. “I’m hopeful we can reach a Middle East accord,” he said, hinting at the ongoing conflict between Loftis and the other members of the state Retirement System Investment Commission.
That conflict revolves around a disagreement over the fund’s returns—in the bottom 20 percent in the nation, according to Loftis—in lieu of the $427 million the commission shells out to money managers. The national average is $154 million. Loftis calls the $273 million extra the state pays a “transfer of wealth to Wall Street money managers,” in a presentation found on his official website. He gave a version of that presentation before the subcommittee two weeks ago. But representatives of state retirees’ associations testified before the subcommittee last week that they were pleased with the work the commission was doing despite the higher fees.
Loftis said he gets ruled out of order every time he goes to speak and that he can’t get simple items added to the commission’s agenda. He raised his voice when it came to the subject of written testimony by RSIC’s chairman, Reynolds Williams in answer to the senators’ questions about the fund. Loftis voiced concern about Williams not being under oath. Lourie offered Loftis a cup of ice water in jest. Sen. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson, also co-chairs the subcommittee. Sens. Darrell Jackson, D-Hopkins, and Ray Cleary, R-Murrells Inlet, are also on the subcommittee. Cleary didn’t attend Thursday’s hearing.
Lourie said after the hearing that lawmakers may need to reconvene over additional meetings some time during the Spring as the process evolves.
Former Sen. Greg Ryberg, R-Aiken, will testify before the subcommittee in February. Ryberg is the Investment Commission’s chief operating officer.