Aug. 15--Two of the largest state employee groups have asked the State Supreme Court to overrule the Budget and Control Board's decision to raise health insurance premiums for state workers.
The South Carolina Education Association and the South Carolina State Employees Association have field a petition in the state Supreme Court. The court has 20 days to decide whether to hear the case.
It is the second legal action filed in reference to the board's controversial decision. Monday, a USC chemistry professor filed a lawsuit in Richland County court to stop the increase from taking effect.
The Budget and Control Board -- at the request of Gov. Nikki Haley -- voted 3-2 to raise health insurance premiums for state employees by 4.6 percent. The move will save the state $5.8 million and it will cost the average state employee and retiree an extra $7.24 per month.
The board's decision came after state lawmakers voted overwhelmingly not to raise the rates. This most recent lawsuit challenges the board's decision on constitutional grounds, arguing that "the General Assembly alone has spending authority, whether the funds are generated within or outside the state."
"The General Assembly did not and cannot delegate authority to (the Budget and Control Board or the South Carolina Public Employee Benefits Authority) to modify or reject duly enacted appropriations," wrote Allen Nickles, the attorney representing the two employee groups.
Haley and others have argued that while the General Assembly set aside money to pay for the increase, lawmakers did not pass an accompanying law -- called a budget proviso -- requiring that the money be spent.
"They argue that because the Legislature appropriated the money we were required to spend it, and in choosing not to we acted illegally. One, that's incorrect: The board was well within its legal authority to act. And two, that mentality is exactly what is wrong with government," Haley wrote in an op-ed published in The State newspaper. "I can't think of a better recipe for waste and abuse than telling state agencies if they don't spend every dollar every year they are violating the law."
Below is a copy of the lawsuit
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