South Carolina House lawmakers made an abrupt switch Tuesday, choosing to give themselves an increased allowance just minutes after they had voted to reject the idea.
The governor last week struck down budget language that would have doubled legislators’ in-district expense allowances. In a 73-39 roll call, House leaders initially failed to get a two-thirds vote that was needed to override Gov. Nikki Haley’s veto. But legislators tried again just moments later and were successful in a 73-29 vote after a net ten Republicans who had voted “no” did not cast their votes a second time. The measure now heads to the Senate, where it passed without a veto-proof majority in May.
The new proviso would allow lawmakers to be reimbursed for up to $2,000 each month (up to $24,000 per year) for in-district expenses related to their job, such as office costs or phone bills. That would be an increase from the current $1,000. State legislators currently receive a $10,400 per-year salary as part of their job in addition to the in-district reimbursements.
Gov. Haley was furious about the vote, calling it “unreal” in a Twitter post. “Unreal. The House just reconsidered & voted themselves a pay raise,” Haley tweeted. “After the vote failed Rep. (Rick) Quinn (R-Lexington) asked for it to be taken up again. Those who voted “Y” or “NV” (not voting) supported raising their own pay. Thank those who voted “N” and stood with us.”