S.C. state employees who make less than $50,000 a year could get a one-time bonus of up to $500.
However, that bonus is contingent on the state closing its books with a surplus for its budget year that ends June 30.
If that surplus does not come to at least $2.1 million — the amount needed to pay a minimum $100 bonus to lower paid employees — then workers would not get a bonus.
“It’s a small way of saying to state employees that we haven’t forgotten about you,” said state Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Richland.
About 75 percent of workers at state agencies make $50,000 a year or less, according to the S.C. Department of Administration. That excludes workers at S.C. colleges, and the judicial and legislative branches.
The possibility of a one-time bonus for state workers — including troopers, social workers and corrections officers — is the only chance those workers have of getting a pay hike this year.
Versions of the state budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, passed by the S.C. House and Senate Finance Committee, do not include a pay raise for state workers.
Instead of a pay raise, lawmakers agreed to use roughly $150 million from the general fund to shore up the state’s ailing pension system. They also approved paying all of state workers’ increased health insurance costs.
S.C. government underpays its employees, according to an independent study. That study said the pay of state workers lags salaries paid by other states by 15 percent. As a result of that low pay, agencies struggle to recruit and retain workers.
Last year, state workers received their largest pay raise in a decade —3.25 percent. State workers have not received a raise in four of the past 10 years.