SC committee plan would fix bridges, buy buses

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 20, 2013 at 8:27 pm •  Published: February 20, 2013
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The budget plan provides an additional $13 million to the prisons agency to improve security and officer safety, something Gov. Nikki Haley pushed for in her executive budget, citing two hostage situations at Lee Corrections last year.

Also as Haley recommended, the budget would provide pay increases only for officers in maximum-security prisons, at 3 percent.

House budget writers approved spending $60 million to fix bridges with load restrictions.

And the plan sets aside $25 million for cyber-security, as lawmakers consider ways to improve security across state agencies in the wake of last fall's massive breach at the Department of Revenue. The money would cover costs including software upgrades and a possible new computer information security agency.

It could also extend credit monitoring for taxpayers who signed up with Experian after the hacking of millions of residents' personal data was announced. The state paid $12 million to Experian for a year of monitoring through a no-bid contract. Other vendors are being considered for future services, said Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Charleston.

"We're going to have to negotiate to continue to cover our citizens," he said.

State employees would pay more for health care.

The committee approved spending an additional $59 million to fully cover the rising cost of health care premiums, so employees' take-home pay won't decrease. However, they will pay more out of pocket if they get sick. Doctor, hospital and pharmacy co-pays would increase by 20 percent. Employees also would be required to spend more before coverage kicks in, since health care deductibles would also rise 20 percent.

For single employees, the deductible would increase from $350 to $420. Family deductibles would increase from $700 to $840. Doctor visits would increase by $2, to $12, and emergency room visits would increase by $25 to $150.

Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, said legislators need to figure out how to avoid those increases.

That would cost the state roughly $50 million more. The state plans to seek a waiver for the state health plan regarding preventative care services required in the federal health care. That would have cost roughly $70 million additional.