Raises for SC employees unlikely, but judges want a 20% pay hike

State employees have dim prospects of getting a pay raise this year, but one group is pushing for a big pay bump, arguing they are underpaid significantly. The S.C. Judicial Department is asking for a 20 percent pay hike for all state judges, a request a S.C. House panel will consider Wednesday. The raise would cost state taxpayers an additional $6.3 million a year. All justices and judges in the state Judicial Department would see their pay increase. For example, if approved by lawmakers, the pay hike would mean a roughly $31,000-a-year raise for state Supreme Court Chief Justice Don Beatty to about $187,000 a year. The other Supreme Court justices and more than 100 judges in the state’s appeals, circuit and family courts also would see substantial boosts to their salaries, which now range from about $137,000 to $149,000 a year. The proposed raises do not include other Judicial Department employees, including the more than 100 court reporters who create the records of what happens in court. A pay hike is needed for judges, said Tonnya Kennedy Kohn, interim director of S.C. Court Administration. “A strong judiciary is vital to maintaining a healthy court system, and competitive pay is critical to attracting the most qualified lawyers and retaining the best judges,” she said. “South Carolina’s judicial salaries remain low compared to other states, according to the National Center for State Courts. This request is a first step toward establishing comparable salaries to other justices and judges across the country.”… [Read full story]

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