We must keep politics out of important decisions

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I read with interest William McGarry’s column, “Investment Commission needs reform,” about the S.C. Retirement System Commission in the Jan. 15 edition of The Lancaster News.

Unlike Mr. McGarry, I am a retired public employee and for the last eight years have carefully followed every major piece of legislation that has passed the General Assembly concerning the S.C. retirement system.

As a member of the State Retirees Association, we worked to achieve several goals – a professional investment team with the education, experience and credentials to manage a multi-billion dollar trust fund, stakeholder participation in investment decisions and removal of politics in investment decisions.

Lastly and importantly, we worked to ensure the trust fund will be properly and adequately funded to ensure the benefits we worked for will be there for us and future retirees.

From my point of view, those goals were accomplished with the passage of acts 153, 311 and 278, with one exception. The state treasurer, a politician, was allowed to be a member of the Investment Commission without having the qualifications required of the other members.

This was agreed to out of respect for one of the finest public servants to ever hold office in South Carolina, the late Grady Patterson Jr.

If reform is needed, I suggest it is now time to revisit that particular section of the law. We must do everything we can to keep politics out of decisions that will so directly affect hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians.

Wayne Bell