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Terrible SC Pension Bill Headed To Governor’s Desk




A badly flawed South Carolina pension “reform” bill will land on S.C. governor Henry McMaster’s desk this week – at which point the Palmetto State’s chief executive will have five days to decide whether to sign it, veto it or ignore it.

If McMaster takes no affirmative action, the legislation would become law without his signature.

Wait … has that ever happened before?  A governor refusing to take action on a bill?

Yes.  Back in 2011 former S.C. governor Nikki Haley let the clock run out on a bill granting a sales tax exemption to online retailer Amazon – allowing the controversial tax break to become law.

This bill (H. 3726) is a much bigger deal than that one, though.  Barring a McMaster veto, it would subject South Carolina taxpayers to a massive $826 million annual tax increase.  And that’s on top of the $1.3 billion they are already paying each year on the state’s woefully underperforming pension fund.

By contrast, government employees’ share of the increased cost of their own retirement plans would total only $40 million annually under the legislation.

That’s a 20-to-1 ratio, people.

Crazy, huh?  Indeed … almost as crazy as the terrible decision-making that led us to this situation.

South Carolina’s pension fund has been colossally mismanaged in recent years as managers appointed by Haley and powerful S.C. Senate president Hugh Leatherman pursued foolhardy “alternative investment” approaches with state retirees’ money.  In addition to some questionable self-dealing, these political appointees have doled out massive bonuses to the very bureaucrats who produced some of the worst results of any large pension fund in America (at the highest price, too).

We’ve been on this issue for years … unlike the state’s supplicant mainstream media, which only recently woke up to the looming fiscal disaster.

“This entire saga is yet another sad and costly reminder of why South Carolina will never move forward,” we wrote earlier this month in an expansive report detailing the many flaws of this bill.  “Connected elites receive appointments that they use to enrich themselves, while politicians and media are asleep at the wheel.  And when the whole thing blows up, taxpayers get screwed over while absolutely nothing is done to fix the underlying problem.”

Accordingly, we have called on McMaster to veto this bill.

“Signing this bill would not only impose an $826 million tax hike on hard-working South Carolinians, it would likely expose them to additional financial hardship moving forward given its lack of real reform and removal of oversight,” we wrote earlier this month. “McMaster must veto this tax hike and demand equitable treatment for taxpayers, real structural reform to the pension fund and continued oversight moving forward.”

We’re not the only ones …

The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier has also called on McMaster to use his veto pen on this legislation – as has S.C. Senator Tom Davis, the top fiscal conservative in the S.C. General Assembly.

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