In keeping with his promise of a month ago to begin much-needed discussions about the problems faced by both the next administration and the next generation, Gov. Mark Sanford today announced plans to host a Retirement System Roundtable later this month. While last month's Higher Education Summit was important in enacting a selective building moratorium until colleges reduce their burdensome tuition hikes on students, the Retirement Roundtable will address the lurking danger of long-term liabilities to taxpayers' wallets and the state's fiscal health. In fact, a recent Pew Charitable Trust study ranked South Carolina's retirement system the 11th worst-funded pension plan in the nation.
"Ready or not, there is a financial storm brewing for our state's retirement system," Gov. Sanford said. "South Carolina taxpayers are already on the hook - in large part without their consent - for over $21 billion in long-term liabilities related to retirement and health care benefits. This invisible mortgage represents roughly four times the state's general funds budget and means that each and every state taxpayer is effectively in debt an additional $13,800 - over and above more than $13.5 trillion in national debt. In fact, our state's retirement system is only funded at 68 percent, a level that would violate federal law were it in the private sector.
"Yet far too often in South Carolina, state leaders have evaded the hard financial decisions as unfunded long-term liabilities continue to pile up. For example, South Carolina's retirement system inexplicably still assumes an eight percent investment rate of return - even in today's challenging economy. This is out of line with many states including Georgia, North Carolina and Florida; and it is out of line with reality. We continue to believe that the state should try to honor past promises before making new ones that will drown future generations in debt. On that front, I look forward to hearing from a variety of voices come October 20, and I'd invite South Carolinians who feel strongly on this issue to join us."
The Retirement System Roundtable will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, October 20, 2010, in Room 252 of the Edgar Brown Building on the Statehouse grounds in Columbia. Speakers, expert panelists and invitees include: State Senator Greg Ryberg; State Representatives Tom Young and Jim Battle; Treasurer-elect Curtis Loftis; Peggy Boykin, Executive Director of the South Carolina Retirement Systems; Robert Borden, Chief Executive Officer of the South Carolina Retirement System Investment Commission; Dr. Joshua Rauh, Associate Professor of Finance at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University; Wayne Bell, President of the State Retirees Association; and retirees and concerned citizens from across South Carolina, among others.
All interested South Carolinians, including state retirees, community leaders, legislators, stakeholders and members of the media are invited to attend. Please call or email Leigh LeMoine (803-734-0067; firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions and to confirm your attendance.