‘It’s a time bomb that’s growing every year’: State Comptroller General suggests some surplus money should cover pension plans debt

State Comptroller General suggests some surplus money should cover pension plans debt

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - It was a surprise to some, South Carolina has another surplus.

General Fund revenues grew by 8.6 percent over the previous year’s revenues, bringing in $8.8 billion in 2019, according to the state Comptroller General’s office.

In a release, the Comptroller General said, after funding an additional $344 million in “supplemental spending” plus $61 million for $50 tax rebates, South Carolina ended the fiscal year with $350 million of remaining revenue surplus.

Lawmakers have some time before they need to decide what to do with that money. The state’s Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom said some of that money needs to go towards funding state employee pension plans.

“The more we deal with it now just incrementally, the more we alleviate the pain going forward,” Eckstrom said.

According to the Comptroller General, there is about $24 billion in unfunded liabilities. “We’re left with what I think is a ticking time bomb. It really is. It’s a time bomb that’s growing bigger every year we ignore the problem.”

This isn’t a unique problem to South Carolina. Many other states are dealing with this. Eckstrom said this could have a major impact on the state in a few decades if it isn't taken care of. There could be tax increases and cuts to services like education and healthcare. This could take a few decades.

Eckstrom said people just starting their careers could be in jeopardy if this isn’t addressed. “The folks who just came in and will work 30 years retire there’s a big question, what’s going to be there for them?”

In 2017, some state employees began paying 9% into their pension plans. It was an increase from 8.7%.

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