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Lawmakers say closing pension to new hires an option

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Some lawmakers looking to shore up South Carolina's pension system for public workers say transitioning to a 401k-like plan is a possibility. But experts caution such a move won't erase existing debt.

Legislative leaders aren't advocating the idea, at least not yet. But several want to explore a hybrid plan that maintains pensions for existing employees but puts new hires into a "defined contribution" system, such as 401k retirement accounts.

Republican state Treasurer Curtis Loftis says such a hybrid is inevitable, as he believes the debt under the existing system is too large to fix.

Jean-Pierre Aubry with the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College says putting new hires into a 401k system does nothing to the existing debt.

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