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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Virginia state and local governments may have to pay more each year to cover public employees’ retirement costs.The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the state’s pension plan for public employees is looking at lowering its expected rate of investment returns.The Virginia Retirement System could lower the assumed growth rate from 7 % to 6.75% or 6.5%. Supporters of the move say the lower numbers are a more realistic forecast of future growth.Such a move would increase the employer contribution costs by more than $200 million a year. That could eat into government budgets for other services or lead to tax hikes.VRS last lowered its assumed rate in 2010 from 7.5% to 7%.The fund said it earned a 6.5% last fiscal year.