South Carolina teachers called on lawmakers to protect their retirement benefits Tuesday during a news conference at the State House.
The South Carolina Retirement System has a $13 billion deficit, and lawmakers are considering proposals that would increase how much workers pay into the system and would make new hires work longer before they are eligible to receive benefits.
But the proposals would also ban workers from using sick days and vacation days to calculate their pension benefit once they retire, and it would increase the number of years of salary a person uses to calculate their benefit -- which could result in lower benefits for some workers.
Jo Ellen Dowdy, a teacher in Lexington-Richland 5, said teachers are willing to pay more into the system to help with the deficit but do not want to see benefit cuts.
“As an experienced teacher, I can tell you that the security and integrity of my pension is one of the factors I consider when I think about finding employment that offers less stress and more money,” she said.
House and Senate lawmakers have been discussing changes to the retirement system for months, but so far no one has introduced a bill.