SC lawmakers settle on a budget and state employee raises. Here’s what they’ll get.

·2 min read

House and Senate members on Thursday agreed on a more than $10 billion state spending plan, one that takes into account two years of modest growth, and includes a compromise on how much of a pay raise state employees will receive.

Lawmakers on the budget conference committee settled on a 2.5% across-the-board pay raise for state employees after the House pushed for a 3% state employee pay raise and the Senate proposed a 2% pay raise.

The last time state employees received a raise was in the 2019-20 budget when they received a 2% increase.

The overall spending plan, which is about $10.6 billion, is scheduled to be voted on by both legislative chambers Monday before going to Gov. Henry McMaster for his consideration.

The spending plan includes putting a resource officer and a full-time nurse in every school in the state.

Teachers also will get a $1,000 pay raise on top of their annual increases based on years of experience and education.

“Basically what this budget does in my opinion is to continue to move this state forward,” said Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence. “We looked at the money we had, we decided where it ought to go and made sure we continued the growth in this state, in particular to make sure we’re doing the things that will be beneficial to all the people in South Carolina.”

Lawmakers are looking to adopt a budget after operating on a continuing resolution for the 2020-21 fiscal year to keep spending levels the same amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

South Carolina is expected to have about $1.8 billion more to spend in the upcoming fiscal year compared to the current fiscal year. However, only $520 million is recurring revenue that can be used to pay for ongoing expenses such as salaries or ongoing services.

But House Ways and Means Chairman Murrell Smith, R-Sumter, said the spending plan really represents a two-year budget and the growth is modest when split over two years.

“So this is a very modest year, but we have done a lot of great things with this modest amount of recurring revenue that we have,” Smith said.

The economy has rebounded in the state, especially along the coast in the tourism industry.

“Our economy came out of COVID much faster than most economies in the United States,” Smith said. “I appreciate the steady hand of leadership of Gov. McMaster, as well as the Senate leadership as well as the House leadership, on making sure we put our economy and our people first before we put any politics before them.”

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