Pay raise for SC state workers unlikely

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signs a bill into law as former South Carolina governors and officials look on Thursday, July 9, 2015, at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. The law enables the removal of the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds more than 50 years after the rebel banner was raised to protest the civil rights movement. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signs a bill into law as former South Carolina governors and officials look on Thursday, July 9, 2015, at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. The law enables the removal of the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds more than 50 years after the rebel banner was raised to protest the civil rights movement. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Key legislators say South Carolina is unlikely to be able to afford a pay raises for state employees next year, but workers’ advocates say the state can’t afford not to raise salaries.

The State newspaper in Columbia reports (http://bit.ly/2dJX3BP) that lawmakers say they’ll need to budget money to pay for damage caused by Hurricane Matthew and shore up the state’s ailing pension system, among other needs.

House budget-writing chairman Brian White, R-Anderson says he doesn’t believe money will be available for a pay raise.

But a pay study last year showed that South Carolina’s low pay makes it difficult to recruit and retain qualified state workers. S.C. State Employee Association Director Carlton Washington says the state will spend more money in the long run if it doesn’t increase salaries.

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