COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Lawmakers are now searching for ways to pay state employees billions of dollars in retirement that have been promised to them.
South Carolina Treasurer Curtis Loftis told WIS that taxpayers will be left to pay on that this debt if lawmakers on a new committee can't find an answer to this problem.
Employees pay into the state pension plan and expect a return once they retire. However, the money owed that the state does not have grows by billions each year. Right now, there's about $20 billion that legislators must figure out how to pay.
Treasurer Loftis believes any pension relief tax should be prioritized above a road tax when lawmakers return this January.
"You can see a pothole but can't see the pension," Loftis said, "and if we're not careful, there's this huge cloud of debt and if we're not careful, it's going to affect every single person in this state. It's going to affect every school district, every school bus, every policeman. Everything we do is going to be affected by this debt and it means we're going to have less of all the good things."
State employees have already seen a hike in what they pay into the retirement system yearly as they pay more for their benefits than public workers in other states.
Treasurer Loftis said the state pension system is a failing system. He blames the problem on what he considers a decade of lawmakers' mismanagement of funds.