A roundup of what’s making news in South Carolina state government
The House’s budget-writing committee is scheduled to approve next year’s budget Thursday, sending the proposal to the full House for an expected vote next month.
Included in the current language is a 1.5 percent cost-of-living raise for state employees. The House Ways & Means Committee gave its approval to the increase Wednesday.
The Associated Press reports that members of the committee had initially considered a two percent raise, but instead decided to give employees a break on higher health insurance premiums. Instead, the committee decided to set aside $57 million to cover the increase in premiums.
However, the plan would require employees to pay a bit more for their deductibles and co-payments. Individuals’ deductibles would increase from $420 to $450, while family coverage deductibles would go up from $840 to $900. Copayments would increase by $1 for doctor visits, to $13; and by $10 for emergency room care, to $160.
— The State newspaper reports budget officials have sent a team to South Carolina State University to see if any solutions exist after the college requested $12 million from lawmakers to help cover a serious deficit. In a plan submitted to the state Budget & Control Board, college president Thomas Elzey promised to make more cuts to ease a $13 million shortfall. However, he warned S.C. State will struggle to pay its bills beginning in March.
— Gov. Nikki Haley’s former chief of staff has been confirmed as South Carolina’s new prisons chief. Bryan Stirling was unanimously approved by the Senate Wednesday to lead the Department of Corrections. Stirling has acted as interim director since previous Corrections head Bill Byars stepped down in October due to health and family reasons.
— A bill introduced in the South Carolina Senate Wednesday tries to protect the state’s senior citizens from cases of abuse and exploitation that can slip through legal loopholes. The bill would try to crack down on “trafficking,” most notably by predators who act as caregivers, but fraudulently divert seniors’ money for their own personal use.
— A bill that calls for the repeal of Common Core education standards in South Carolina failed to leave a Senate subcommittee Wednesday. The Charleston Post & Courier reports members of the committee did not have time to deal with a series of amendments filed by Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville. Fair, an opponent of Common Core, said the amendments were a “compromise,” as the standards are already being implemented in schools. But he was booed by other opponents in the audience, who worried Fair was delaying the bill.