House lawmakers voted 113-0 to approve the state’s $23 billion budget Thursday -- and Senators are already planning to change it.
Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Richland, is proposing to give state workers a 4 percent raise -- 1 percent for every year they have not received a raise. It would cost about $60 million for state workers.
The House budget includes a 2 percent raise for state employees.
Jackson said his plan would also include a 4 percent raise for teachers. It’s unclear how much that would cost. House lawmakers set aside an extra $152 million to give teachers and school district employees a 2 percent raise, only to find out it wasn’t enough. They added another $8 million this week to teacher and school district employee salaries.
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But House lawmakers -- in a nod to the complexity of school funding -- allowed some districts to be exempt from the raises, but only if they could prove they did not have them to pay them.
Jackson said he plans to introduce an amendment when the Senate Finance Committee begins debating the budget later this month. Jackson said he knows what he will cut from the House budget to make room for his proposed pay increase, but he’s keeping that a secret for now.
“When you reveal your funding source, everybody starts gunning for it,” he said. “You need to keep your funding source close to your to chest.”
Lawmakers do have an extra $1 billion in new money to spend this year. About half of that money is recurring dollars, meaning it will be available in future budgets.
But in a $6 billion general fund budget that includes education, Medicaid and public safety -- that money can disappear quickly.