By MEG KINNARD
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The South Carolina Budget and Control Board has been ordered to return state employee health insurance premiums that a court says were collected illegally.
The state Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with state workers who sued last year after the board raised rates on employees and agencies by 4.6%.
Lawmakers had already agreed to pay the premium hikes as part of a worker pay compromise, seeking to provide workers who had gone four years without a raise with a noticeable increase in their paychecks.
In January, employees' attorney Allen Nickles argued that only state legislators have the power to set state spending and that the board violated the constitution when it voted to split the cost of increases in public workers' health insurance premiums between agencies and employees.
Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP