All nine of South Carolina's constitutional officers — including the governor — would get a pay raise next year under the S.C. Senate's budget proposal, debated Wednesday.
Those state officials, elected statewide every four years, need those raises to bring them in line with their peers in other states, said state Sen. Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington.
Malloy's proposal was tacked onto the state's $8.2 billion general fund budget Wednesday, adding nearly $250,000 for those pay raises.
The state's nine constitutional officers are the governor, lieutenant governor, superintendent of education, commissioner of agriculture, attorney general, secretary of state, comptroller general, state treasurer and adjutant general.
The S.C. governor — paid about $106,000 a year — would get an added $41,863 under the Senate's proposed budget. The state superintendent and attorney general — each paid $92,007 a year — would get another $68,333 and $24,276, respectively.
But efforts to increase pay for the state's constitutional officers could fall apart before the budget takes effect July 1, particularly as advocates for state workers argue there's no money in the proposed budget to give state employees a raise.
"I wasn't happy," state Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Richland, said late Wednesday of the Senate's decision to OK raises for constitutional officers. "What disturbs me more than anything is, not that constitutional officers don't deserve better pay, but it's kind of ironic that in the second consecutive year there's no pay increase for janitors who work in state government."
Jackson has asked the Senate to amend the budget to include a 3 percent pay raise for state workers. That proposal was tabled and will come back to the floor for debate Thursday.
The S.C. House did not include raises for the state's constitutional officers, and any effort to do so could unwind during budget negotiations between senators and House members once the Senate adopts the budget.
Furthermore, the raises are more than likely to get vetoed once they cross the desk of S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster, who tweeted Wednesday, "Not on my watch. #VETO."
McMaster added, "There are more important priorities the SC Senate budget should address- like funding certified law enforcement (resource) officers for schools in districts that can’t afford them."