The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Gov. Scott voices support for pension chief Ash Williams

1

November

Gov. Rick Scott expressed confidence on Tuesday in Ash Williams, executive director of the State Board of Administration, which manages the pension fund for state employees.

Williams is up for reappointment soon by the SBA trustees, which includes Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and CFO Jeff Atwater. Williams could "do a better job of presenting" information, Scott said, but overall is doing ahis job well.

"If you think about his job, his job is to get the best returns we can without taking more risk than he should. That's not easy," Scott said. "So today I think he's doing that."

Scott empathized with Williams, saying "it's frustrating when you get asked questions all the time."

We asked Williams if he expected to be reappointed. "That's up to the trustees," Williams said.

The balance in the pension fund was $121 billion as of Monday, a 1.2 percent increase since January but a $7 billion decline from the pension's highest value this year, Williams told the trustees Tuesday. The pension fund has taken hits recently as a result of the volatile European markets and the U.S.'s debt ceiling debate and downgrade by S&P.

Williams has taken heat lately for sending Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, a $10,000 bill in response to a public records request about the SBA's $125 million investment in a hedge fund.

In the post-Cabinet media availability, Scott said the value of the pension increased by about 20 percent during the 2010-11 fiscal year even as the government's obligation to the fund fell.

"That should scare us," he said. "It should scare everybody that is reliant on this pension plan."

[Last modified: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 2:20pm]

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