A daily review of what’s making news in South Carolina state government.
Public employees in South Carolina would have to pay a bit more towards their retirements, while state agencies and local governments would contribute a lot more under a proposal that cleared a state House panel Tuesday.
A House budget subcommittee advanced a bill Tuesday that tries to infuse South Carolina’s struggling pension system — which has a $24 billion gap between what it has promised future retirees vs. what it has on hand. The plan would slightly raise employee contributions from 8.66 percent to 9 percent, but cap it there. Employers, however, would need to go from the current 11.56 percent to 18.56 percent by 2023.
State Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Bluffton said more difficult choices will need to be made in the future, “We have a constitutional obligation to secure our existing pension system for current vested employees and to make sure it’s properly funded so they can receive the benefits that were promised under the plan,” he said.
Some mayors and other agency heads are unhappy with the plan, since it would increase the amount their cities and agencies pay towards employees’ retirement by 60 percent. “Do not try to fix this on the backs of local governments,” Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols posted on Twitter. “State alone has created this issue with no input from cities, schools or counties.”
The full House Ways & Means Committe will debate the proposal on Thursday.
— Members of the House are mourning one of the chamber’s longest-serving Democrats, who passed away Tuesday. State Rep. Joe Neal, D-Hopkins, died on Tuesday, according to state Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison. Harrison did not give a cause of death. Neal was 66 years old. Neal was one of the chamber’s most recognizable members, having represented southeast Richland County in the House since 1993. He prioritized efforts that he saw as helping South Carolina’s rural poor, including Medicaid expansion and opposing efforts to require photo identification in order to vote.
— A bill that would allow out-of-state concealed weapons permit holders to carry in South Carolina advanced to the House floor Tuesday. The measure would require the state recognize concealed weapons permits from all 50 states – including those that don’t have South Carolina’s level of required gun safety training. Opponents questioned if the state should allow gun owners to carry who do not meet the same criteria as South Carolina residents must.
— A measure that would authorize new license plates honoring Coastal Carolina University’s 2016 College World Series championship has passed the Senate. The proposal would allow the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles to create and sell special Coastal-themed license plates, with a plan to cost $70 in addition to regular Motor Vehicles registration fees. Any profits would go toward academic scholarships. A similar bill would create tags for Clemson’s football champhionship this year.