State senators gave their OK to a bill that could open up the door for pay raises for statewide elected officials, including the attorney general, secretary of state and state treasurer.
The South Carolina Senate on Wednesday approved placing pay for constitutional officers under the purview of the joint House and Senate Agency Head Salary Commission. The House previously passed the bill.
The legislation does not include the governor and lieutenant governor. All statewide constitutional officers are up for re-election next year. Leaving the governor and lieutenant governor out of the bill keeps Gov. Henry McMaster from signing legislation that would allow him to receive a pay raise.
Under the bill, the Agency Head Salary Commission would recommend to the General Assembly the pay for each constitutional officer, with the new salaries taking effect at the start of their next term.
Statewide constitutional officer salaries are set in state statute. Their pay was last increased in 1994.
The governor earns $106,000 a year, and the lieutenant governor earns $46,500. All other statewide elected officials, including the attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer, agricultural commissioner and superintendent of education, earn $92,000 a year.
Under the bill, the Agency Head Salary Commission would study salary ranges for each statewide elected official every four years, looking at how much other states pay their statewide elected leaders.
The pay raises, if approved by the salary commission, would go into effect in 2023 at the earliest.
State Sen. Ronnie Cromer, R-Newberry, said pay for the governor and lieutenant governor could be added to the salary commission’s purview in two or three years.
For comparison, Georgia paid its attorney general $139,000, and its state superintendent of education $123,000 in 2020. North Carolina’s attorney general and the superintendent of Public Instruction each were paid $136,700 in 2020.
Raising pay to attract candidates and remain competitive has been a priority recently. The Agency Head Salary Commission recently increased minimum salaries for 26 agency heads in order to remain competitive with other states.