COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP/WVOC) - A bill that would raise teacher salaries to the national average has been introduced in the state Senate.

The idea is being pushed by Kershaw County State Senator Vincent Sheheen.  He's a co-sponsor of the measure that would phase in the increase over five years.

Five Democrats and four Republicans signed on to the bill filed Tuesday.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the average salary for teachers nationwide in school year 2010-11 was just over $56,000.

Teachers in South Carolina are expected to earn, on average, more than $9,000 less than that this year.

Richland County State Senator Darrell Jackson is the main sponsor.  He says paying teachers what they deserve is critical to the state's success.

State budget officials have not yet calculated the cost.