How do you solve a $21 billion debt? Lawmakers seek ways to fix - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

How do you solve a $21 billion debt? Lawmakers seek ways to fix pension system

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

South Carolina lawmakers are battling a growing $21 billion pension debt that’s throwing uncertainty on the retirement money the state promises public employees.

In Tuesday's meeting, the committee examined different retirement models that could lessen the debt, but made no decision.

Researchers with Pew and the Reason Foundation stressed the need for change, saying even with reform, it could take 20 years to knock out the debt that’s built.

There are three retirement models the committee is considering, with Chairman Bill Herbkersman saying they could mix a couple to form a hybrid -- but really, they’re still considering anything.

In public testimony weeks ago, people requested lawmakers not raise employee contribution to retirement. But Herbkersman said they can’t rule that out yet.

"Nothing’s off the table right now, but we -- we are in a danger zone right now, definitely," Herbkersman said. "We’re going to run projections right now and then I think we’ll be meeting with our attorneys this week to find out what we can legally do and we’ll put the rest of it in statute, put the rest of it up for vote."

Some mention a risk of having employees pay more into retirement of government agencies being unable to recruit workers in the long run.

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