Of pay hikes, research and diggin’ in the dirt
Friday, June 20, 2014 12:00 AM
We still think state lawmakers poorly handled the pay increase they were about to give themselves before winding down the session. And for that, they get a thumbs down. There is no denying a good many South Carolina voters will have a more cynical view and would be inclined to deny lawmakers any pay raise, some even suggesting they should get no pay whatsoever, so no matter how they went about things, there would have been an outcry.
However, the lawmakers would have served themselves a bit better had they publicly discussed the need for a pay increase as opposed to simply trying to slip themselves a bump in their indistrict expense account. Lawmakers have not had a pay increase in a good number of years, since 1995, nor have they had any increase in the expense fund allocated to help cover their travel expenses within their districts, along with various other expenditures that come with the job. They argue, and probably rightfully so, that the base salary of $10,400 makes it difficult for some people who want to serve to be able to afford to do so. Of course, that $10,400 is offset by the initial $12,000 per year in indistrict expense funding, making the pay $22,400. Now if you tack on the $1,000 per month in additional expense funds lawmakers nearly voted for themselves you can see the “salary” would rise to a healthier $34,400. And that would be on top of the salary they might draw from regular jobs. Now you can see the cost of being a legislator would become more affordable, to the point of becoming the career it was not meant to be. A wiser approach would be to argue for and vote on a base salary increase. We dare say not every lawmaker would have a legitimate year-end tally of $24,000 just for basic travel expenses and the like covered under the indistrict fund.
But we’ll go ahead and give state senators a thumbs up for being the ones to sustain Gov. Nikki Haley’s veto of the $12,000 per year hike in lawmakers’ taxpayer-funded paychecks. Senators wrangled with the governor’s list of vetoes into the late night Wednesday, emerging with a 10-32 (with three excused as absent) vote that quashed the pay hike. FYI, state Sens. Shane Massey and Billy O’Dell were among the 32 who opted out of the pay hike. Sen. Floyd Nicholson joined nine others in voting to retain the increase. Guys (and gals), take a look at this next year and consider, if the budget allows, seeking a slight increase in the base pay. By slight, we don’t mean $12,000 a year, either.
Thumbs up to the additional progress being made in the area of genetics research, thanks to the collaboration involving Greenwood Genetic Center, Clemson University and Self Regional Healthcare. Autism and hereditary cancers are first up for the research dollars being poured into the Greenwood facility. People living in the Lakelands might not be all that in tune with the facility tucked away in near solitude, not far from and sort of in the shadows of Self Regional’s tower, but there is no doubt nearly every person will, in one way or another, be touched by the research that has taken place and will yet take place, thanks to this collaborative effort. We can and all should be proud to lay claim to such in our backyard.
Dang, Greenwood! What the heck? Hey, we are just as excited as the next guy -- and certainly as excited as the city officials -- about the next big event coming to Greenwood, but we’re not too thrilled about the timing of the digging in the dirt in Uptown to lay the electrical lines that will be needed to accommodate the Festival of Discovery. Here, at the peak of the Festival of Flowers, with all the topiaries in place and related events going on, couldn’t you have arranged to have CPW put those line in earlier? We know you had to get those taken care of, but just think the big equipment, orange cones, dug-up grass and such presents a bit of an eyesore. But everyone likely wiil still have a blooming good time, even though it wasn’t a blooming good idea to dig in the dirt this week and last. In our view.