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.