S.C. Treasurer Curtis Loftis is back on the war path against S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley – blasting her and Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom for “meddling” with the state’s credit rating.
Last month, representatives of the governor’s office and the Comptroller General attempted to pitch credit rating agencies on a pair 0f bad ideas.
The first idea? Borrowing $180 million over the next two years to alleviate the pressure of a $972 million debt that our state currently owes the federal government for unemployment benefits paid out during the recent recession.
It’s borrowing to cover previous borrowing, in other words … something that Loftis has called “ill-conceived.”
“This is like responding to one of those credit card offers in the mail wanting you to transfer debt from one credit card to another, but this time the taxpayers could potentially be on the hook,” Loftis said.
The other idea involves suspending or reducing the state’s annual contribution to its pension plan – which is apparently Haley’s substitute for real reforms that would reduce (not unnecessarily expand) our state’s unfunded liabilities.
Aside from the fiscal inadvisability of both ideas, Haley and Eckstrom are sending dangerous mixed messages to the rating agencies. They’re also deliberately encroaching on Loftis’ turf – the latest chapter in an ongoing middle school drama that began mere weeks after all three were sworn in.
Loftis didn’t mince words in responding to the encroachment.
“The Treasurer’s office has developed and maintained, over the course of the last 40 years, excellent working relationships with our financial partners,” Loftis said in a statement. “We cannot afford the itinerate meddling of politicians to impede these relationships; to do so would put our state’s financial reputation and well being at risk.”
Damn, dude. Tell us how you really feel …
Loftis added that the relationships between his office and the rating agencies were “exceedingly important” and that protecting and nurturing those relationships was “vital to the financial health of South Carolina.”
Haley’s office did not respond to our request for comment.