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COLUMBIA — Future public employees in South Carolina may need to work a couple of years longer to retire, and their pensions may be smaller.

The State newspaper reports that a House panel agreed Thursday to retirement system changes for new hires. Legislators will consider the proposals in the session that starts in January.

They include requiring employees to work 30 years to retire with full benefits, up from 28 years. Their pensions would be calculated differently. Benefits would be based on an average of their last five years’ salary, rather than three. Also, sick leave, annual leave and overtime pay would no longer count.

Lawmakers say reducing the state’s pension system debt is a priority for 2012.

Next week, the subcommittee will discuss changes for current employees and retirees.