- Associated Press - Thursday, February 16, 2017

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A bill legislators are calling the first step toward shoring up South Carolina’s pension system is advancing to the House floor.

The House’s budget-writing committee approved the bill 20-0 Thursday.

It would increase employers’ contribution rates by 7 percentage points over the next six years, requiring the taxpayer-supported entities to cumulatively put an additional $3.2 billion into the system.

The extra money needed next fiscal year alone from the system’s roughly 850 employers totals $236 million. Legislators are considering covering up to $165 million of that through state taxes. The remaining share needed from local governments and colleges could come from property taxes and tuition.

More than $42 million extra also would collectively come out of employees’ paychecks next fiscal year. But the legislation specifies their rates wouldn’t rise again.

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