Teachers took personal day in protest of state S.C. House not voting on budget

S.C. teacher walk-out for salary bump

FORT MILL, S.C. (WBTV) - South Carolina teachers are taking a stand, using their personal days to put pressure on the state House.

Across the Palmetto State, teachers took to the phones, wrote emails and sent out social media posts demanding the House to pass the budget.

The main message in those calls, emails and posts: pass the budget.

In it, some important items for teachers. A huge item they are missing out on is their STEP pay. This is extra money teachers get for every year of experience they gain.

The General Assembly passed legislation keeping the state operating on last year’s budget, so the step pay is frozen until a new budget gets passed.

The Senate approved the budget last week and it was thrown to the House for the same path, but House leaders say they are more comfortable with passing the budget in January because of economic uncertainty. That is why teachers are taking a stand on Wednesday.

“What I love about today is that we have teachers and parents because funding public education is a community issue not just a teacher issue," says Katie Harris, a teacher.

A representative says that the budget bill has been pushed back to the Means and Ways Committee paving the way for a January vote instead.

“It feels very much like a slap in the face to teachers," says Harris.

“Teachers are working harder than they’ve ever worked and to think that we’re not going to be getting that is crazy," says teacher Ali Tracy-McHenry.

Tracy-McHenry joined teachers across the state using a personal day in protest. Without the budget, the raises they get for every year of experience are not coming. Districts that cannot make up the missing $1,200 will have to let their teachers go without.

“If you want to take care of your communities and the people in your state schools is where you should be starting," says Tracy-McHenry.

“In a year where they are all up for re-election that seems like a very poor choice because teachers are going to vote," says Harris.

Harris, who also took a day, says the protest should show legislatures teachers are not backing down from getting what they deserve.

“It once again reiterates our state does not seem to support or care about public education," says Harris.

A house representative says the delay is more about honoring the governor’s wishes. Governor Henry McMaster did not want a budget approved until he knows how the economy is going to turn out. The House leaders agreed.

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