On The Ballet: Recent News At The Poll- Earning More For South Carolina State Retirees

South Carolina has consistently had one of the nation's lowest rates of return on its investment portfolio for the state's public servants including judges, teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other state and local government employees. At the moment, the South Carolina Retirement System for public servants only earns enough money on investments to contribute a mere seventy-two (.72) cents of each dollar the state will owe retired employees in the coming years. And folks you guessed it, the remaining twenty-eight (.28) cents owed to these retirees will no doubt come from you, me, and the rest of the working state-the taxpayers. We will have to make up the deficit.

Lucky for all of us, those of us who turned out to vote- on that rainy day in the upstate and I commend you all- and all over the state, voted to amend our state constitution by removing restrictions that have been responsible for the state's lack of funds -in grand total of $ 9.1 billion- in the billions – in future obligations to our retirees. This resounding "yes" to the recent Question 3a on the ballot eliminates the 19th century restrictions that the South Carolina Constitution placed on investments made by the SC Retirement Commission with the money that our state and local government employees paid into the system.

By amending our constitution the state can diversify its investment portfolio. By removing restrictions on investment strategies, the state now is able to invest in privately held companies as well as international companies. Before, the state's constitution limited South Carolina's equity investments to US based companies on US national exchanges. Now some of you think that foreign stocks and privately held companies should be avoided. However, by allowing these kinds of investments, the dismal performance of the SC Retirement system will definitely improve. This past year our state earned a mere 5.1 percent return on the investments made by commissions in US stocks, certificates of deposit, and Treasury bonds while the median earnings for the rest of the country over the same period was 11.9 percent. Shocking folks because the rest of the country has already been investing in foreign stocks, real estate, and privately held companies. As we all know the risk decreases with a wider range of responsible investments-when one category declines, another invariably performs better, thus profiting overall.

Now with restrictions lifted the SC Retirement commission should be able to earn a bigger return and perhaps we can become one of the finest in the nation and as we all know nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina. Thanks to all of you who came out to vote and keep up the good work as it's all in our best interests.

Arden McCullough Fields

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