RALEIGH — State lawmakers are looking to give more leeway with the state’s $80 billion pension plan.

A proposal would give the state treasurer more freedom with investments for the fund, but some lawmakers worry this freedom could come with a cost.

The House has been sitting on a bill for two months that would allow the state treasurer to make more investments into alternative investments other than stocks and bonds.

State Treasurer Janet Cowell said in that time that no action was taken, it has cost the state more than a billion dollars and she needs to be allowed to make more profitable investments.

“If we don’t make it, investment returns it will be up to the taxpayer to pay this pension benefit,” said Cowell.

Cowell said she wants more flexibility to use what are considered to be more high-risk investments.

She said that is the only way to ensure she can yield the return required for the 875,000 retired teachers, law enforcement officers, and public officials.

But those folks who would be affected by any changes said risky isn’t the way to go.

The proposal was weakened from what was approved by the Senate — not giving as much room for movement to the treasurer.

But within that, different areas of the alternative investments can be utilized more.

Cowell said that could help her reach her target 7 1/4 percent return rate for the pension plan.

But some lawmakers said it is too much money to be gambling with.

The bill split the committee, only getting approval on a 14 to 13 margin. It will now go to the full House for consideration.

North Carolina is one of four states that gives the state treasurer control over the entire pension fund’s investments.

– Loretta Boniti