Due to COVID-19 uncertainty, hazard pay for state employees and teacher pay step increases on hold

Due to COVID-19 uncertainty, hazard pay for state employees and teacher pay step increases on hold
(Source: Jason Raven)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - After weeks of putting together a new budget, the Senate officially sent their spending plan to the House Wednesday afternoon.

They included measures in the plan that would fund hazard pay for some state employees and teacher pay step increases. The budget plan, according to many at the State House, is will most likely not be taken up by the House during the special session.

Some members in House leadership have said they would like to hold off on passing a budget until January.

The Palmetto State Teachers Association (PSTA) said right now, educators across the state are working harder than ever. Patrick Kelly is the Director of Government Affairs for PSTA and a teacher at Richland School District Two. He said, “Whether our teachers are face to face or hybrid or distance learning, right now they are teaching in an instructional model they’ve never seen before.”

Kelly said many teachers are worried they’ll miss out on their step increases since the budget plan will not be taken up. The increases are given to educators for another year of teaching experience. Those step increases were frozen earlier this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kelly said he’s worried about the long term impacts, “It has ripple effects in the future because they will never catch that step up. There are thousands of teachers who are technically a step behind because of the recession in 2008. Those teachers will never get that step back.”

House leadership said they hope to tackle issues like this in 2021. Kelly said, “A failure of the state to meet their obligation to fund the step increases would be another body blow to teacher morale in a moment where we can’t accept it.”

The House did not take up the plan on the floor Wednesday. They will meet again on Sept. 22 at 12 p.m.

Copyright 2020 WIS. All rights reserved.