S.C. governor’s budget seeks pay bumps to shore up workforce

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster greets lawmakers ahead of his State of the State address on...
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster greets lawmakers ahead of his State of the State address on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022, in Columbia, S.C. Democrats in South Carolina get another shot at loosening the firm grasp Republican have on statewide politics as voting ends Tuesday for the 2022 elections. But it's likely to be a tough fight.((AP Photo/Meg Kinnard, File))
Published: Jan. 6, 2023 at 6:45 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Bonuses for every public-school teacher, accelerated tax cuts and nearly a billion dollars to fix South Carolina’s roads.

Those are among the ways Gov. Henry McMaster wants to spend South Carolina’s money this year.

The executive budget is how McMaster is recommending the General Assembly allocate money in the next state budget.

State budget writers will have even more money to spend this year than they anticipated just a few months ago.

“Things are moving and booming, and we have, once again, created a record budget surplus totaling this year over $3.8 billion in unexpected revenue,” McMaster said.

Here are some of the highlights from the governor’s 2023 executive budget:

He wants to put half-a-billion dollars to the state’s rainy-day fund.

A new state law calls for the top state income tax rate to drop from 6.5% – where it now is – to 6% over the next five years.

McMaster is calling for the state to make those cuts sooner – if revenues allow.

“So that taxpayers can keep more of their hard-earned money,” McMaster said. “They will save it, they will invest it, and they will spend it, and that will keep our economy booming.”

The governor wants to put $850 million toward speeding up the state’s road and bridge improvement plan, which includes highway widening projects.

And next year, McMaster is asking to increase the statewide starting salary for teachers from $40,000 up to $42,500 and give every public-school teacher a one-time, $2,500 bonus.

“My goal is, by 2026, to have at least a minimum starting salary of at least, at least $50,000,” the governor said.

McMaster is also recommending allocating $78 million to state agencies for employee recruitment and retention – and giving new hires a $2,500 sign-on bonus.

What he’s not recommending is an across-the-board raise for all state employees.

“We had a study that showed that some of the agencies’ salaries were competitive, others were not, and this will address that,” McMaster said.

Lawmakers will get to work writing the budget – shortly after their legislative session begins Tuesday.