State lawmakers to work on budget, considering hazard pay for some state workers

Updated: Sep. 15, 2020 at 5:57 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - Small teacher raises and money for state prisons could be back on the table Tuesday as lawmakers return to the Statehouse in Columbia for a special two-week session.

State senators will consider changes to the state’s budget, including setting aside $500 million to cover any shortfall in revenue if the COVID-19 economic downturn continues. Meanwhile, House members will discuss changes the Senate already approved for this year’s election process.

They may also consider a measure that would provide hazard pay to some state workers during the pandemic. The one-time bonus would go to front-line state employees making $50,000 per year or less.

The Senate Finance Committee approved a measure that would set aside about $20 million for $1,000 bonuses.

Approximately 14,000 state employees, including health care workers, state troopers and prison guards, could receive that bonus, something the South Carolina State Employees Organization says is much needed. The group shared results of a new survey Monday that asked more than 300 state employees if they believe state workers who are deemed essential should receive hazard pay. More than 94% said they should.

“Think about it, when the governor shut the state down., the only folks traveling to and from work and kept the state going were public employees,” SCSEA President and Executive Director Carlton Washington said.

The full Senate will take up the proposal along with teacher raises this week. If the senate passes the measure, it would then go to the house.

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