Opening Statements of Committee Members

Opening Statement of Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY)

Hearing on Saving Investors Money and Strengthening the SEC
Wednesday, February 14, 2001, 2:30 p.m - Dirksen 538

Mr. Chairman, I would like to state my strong support for S. 143, the Competitive Market Supervision Act.

I am a cosponsor of S. 143, and commend you, Mr. Chairman and the ranking member of my subcommittee, Senator Schumer, for your hard work on this important issue. User fees should be used only for the purpose for which they were collected. They should not be used to balance the budget. The budget is not only balanced, but we are running a surplus. We are currently collecting way too much money in user fees -- more than the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) needs to offset its budget. This backdoor tax on capital is an unfair burden to investors and brokers. I think it would be a nice Valentine to the American investor, both large and small, to pass S. 143 in an expeditious manner.

With more and more people investing in the markets, fee collections have boomed to outrageous levels and these fees are passed on to investors in terms of higher investment costs. Many of these folks are small, first-time investors. Although the fees are a small percentage and that percentage will decrease over the next eight years, the SEC is still collecting much more money than it needs. We tried to move this legislation last year, but we were unsuccessful. It is time to cut this tax. This money belongs to the taxpayers and should be given back to them.

I also support the pay parity provisions of the bill. If we are going to continue to have a strong SEC to ensure our markets remain the envy of the world, the SEC must be able to hire and retain good people. This bill will help ensure we keep good people to oversee our securities markets. It will put their salaries in line with those paid by the Federal Reserve and other federal agencies. It won't pay what Wall Street does, but it will help us keep those people who have chosen to serve the public to continue in their jobs.

Once again, I thank the Chairman for bringing this important legislation before us.