Politics & Government

SC state workers could get a pay raise in proposed state budget. Here’s how much

South Carolina has an extra billion dollars. Here is how Governor McMaster wants to spend it.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster announced his proposed budget. It focuses heavily on funding education and public safety.
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South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster announced his proposed budget. It focuses heavily on funding education and public safety.

South Carolina’s state employees would get a 2-percent pay raise under the most recent draft of the state’s 2019-20 spending plan.

The S.C. House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday adopted a portion of the state’s roughly $9.3 billion budget that included spending about $41.4 million annually on a 2-percent pay raises for all state employees who earn less than $100,000. The House’s proposed budget also would spend $49.7 million on rising health insurance costs for state employees.

South Carolina’s state employees have long argued they are underpaid compared with their Southeastern peers.

A 2016 study — that cost the state nearly $300,000 — found S.C. state worker pay lags 15 percent behind the pay of government workers in other states and 16 percent behind the pay of public-sector jobs in South Carolina’s counties and cities.

Roughly 75 percent of all state workers earn less than $41,000 a year, according to the state Administration Department.

Carlton Washington, head of the S.C. State Employees Association, said Wednesday the proposed raise is a step in the right direction.

However, he said, a 2-percent raise will not make a huge difference for the poorest state employees.

“I just got a call from one of my employees, who lives in a homeless shelter (with her children), and she was counting on a 5-percent (raise) from the Ways and Means Committee so she can move out of a homeless shelter and into an apartment,” he said.

“It’s important, just from a morale perspective, that all employees are treated fairly.”

State Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, Ways and Means’ vice chair, said she’s pleased a raise for state workers was added.

But, she added, “I’m hopeful that once this process is over that state employees will be receiving much more than 2 percent.”

The House’s budget-writing committee will take up budget provisos — one-year laws added to the state budget — on Thursday.

The full S.C. House is expected to debate the state’s budget proposal during the second week of March.

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Maayan Schechter (My-yawn Schek-ter) covers the S.C. State House and politics for The State, focusing primarily on the state budget and the lawmakers who decide how your tax dollars get spent. She grew up in Atlanta, Ga. and graduated from the University of North Carolina-Asheville. She has previously worked at the Aiken Standard and the Greenville News.


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