- Obama takes aim at ‘corporate deserters’
- Dick’s Sporting Goods lays off 478 PGA golf pros
- Senators: Cease-fire must allow Israel to defend against rockets, tunnels
- Sierra Leone doctor fighting Ebola catches disease
- Iraq welcomes Russian fighter jets, helicopter gunships into ISIL fight
- John McCain laments: Obama’s ‘self-pity … is really kind of sad’
- GOP offer to fix VA gives $10 billion in emergency funds
- Paul Ryan offers to repair U.S. economic safety net with a single grant stream
- Kim Jong-un builds bond with Putin: $250M Russia-backed addition to key port opens
- Pope Francis meets Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman sentenced to death
SC state employees could get 1.5 percent raise
Question of the Day
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The House budget-writing committee wants to give South Carolina state employees a slight raise and cover their rising health insurance premiums, but their out-of-pocket costs would increase again.
The Ways and Means Committee tentatively approved on Wednesday a 1.5 percent cost-of-living raise for state employees for the fiscal year starting July 1. Members also agreed to spend an additional $57 million to cover higher premiums for employees of state agencies and school districts.
Rep. Jim Merrill said his subcommittee considered giving a higher raise and requiring employees and retirees to pay for their premium increases.
“We think it’s better to split the two,” said Merrill, R-Charleston. “We could’ve put it all on the backs of state employees and maybe give a 2 percent raise, but that wouldn’t be the responsible thing to do.”
However, the plan would require employees to pay slightly more for their deductibles and co-payments. Individuals’ deductibles would rise by $30, to $450, while family coverage deductibles would increase by $60, to $900. Copayments would increase by $1 for doctor visits, to $13; and by $10 for emergency room care, to $160. Outpatient hospital care co-pays would increase from $90 to $97. Some pharmacy copayments would not change, while others would rise by between $3 and $12.
Those increases, which would take effect Jan. 1, would follow a 20 percent increase in employees’ co-payments this year.
The additional money legislators are designating for pay and premium raises cover employees funded through the state’s general fund. The changes would also apply to employees at agencies and public colleges whose salaries are funded through federal money, tuition, fees or other funds. But those agencies must find the money in their own budgets.
In the K-12 education section of the budget, the committee chose to follow Gov. Nikki Haley’s plan to improve education by focusing on poor, rural school districts.
Haley announced last month that her spending plan for 2014-15 provided K-12 public schools an additional $177 million, for what she called the first of a multiyear investment.
That included $97 million on children living in poverty, $30 million on reading coaches in elementary schools, and $29 million on technology improvements. The plan adopted by Ways and Means would fully cover the cost of a reading coach for several hundred elementary schools where a substantial number of students score poorly on standardized reading tests. The coaches would be partially funded at others. Technology money would be distributed to districts based on their poverty rating.
“It’s a direction we need to go,” Rep. Kenny Bingham, R-Cayce, said about the funding changes.
TWT Video Picks
By Michael Widlanski
Leveling the battlefield to aid terrorists enables evil to fight on
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Fears grow others could join fight against Israel
- Evidence shows Russia firing artillery into Ukraine: Pentagon
- Cutler wins endorsement from gun control group
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- Algerian plane diverted due to storms, second aircraft: 116 missing
- Man says he shot burglar who said she was pregnant
- CARSON: Costco and the perils of mixing politics and business
- Obama's empty tough-talk: Gun prosecutions plummet on his watch
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq