GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – $31 million in new dollars to law enforcement, public safety and first response agencies for recruitment and retention pay raises. That’s a budget proposal Governor Henry McMaster mentioned during his State of the State Address Wednesday night.

Fire and police chiefs told 7 News, those funds would help with staffing shortages but not fix it all.

It’s a career that requires a lot of dedication to public service.

“The numbers of people applying are even dwindling,” said Jamie Caggiano, President of the South Carolina State Firefighters’ Association.

However, Caggiano said filling these kind of jobs, just keeps getting more difficult.

“We did a survey of departments, we had just over 50% of those departments respond. Just within those 52% responding, we have identified over 400 jobs that are needed in the state,” Caggiano said.

Right now, at the Gaffney Fire Department, they have multiple openings. Same goes for other first responder and law enforcement agencies across the state. The reasoning, Caggiano believes partially, people aren’t as interested in public service.

“People are a little scared with COVID so they’re not getting in for that thing, you know why would you want to get into a field that has the potential of being able to take COVID home to your family members,” Caggiano said.

Also, the pay.

However, Governor McMaster said they’re trying to fix that.

“My executive budget dedicates $31 million in new dollars to law enforcement, public safety and first response agencies for recruitment and retention pay raises,” McMaster said.

As for Chief Caggiano, he said a salary increase would help but there is still more work to be done.

“We got to do some recruiting and finessing in our end,” Caggiano explained.