COLUMBIA  — South Carolina senators have removed a pay raise for lawmakers from their budget plan and given the money to local governments instead.

The Senate voted Tuesday to remove $2 million from the Finance Committee's spending plan, which provided legislators $1,000 more per month toward in-district expenses. The proposal doubled the stipend to $24,000 yearly for each of the 170 legislators. Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman says legislators haven't received a raise since 1995, while the cost of gas has tripled since then, making it more expensive to travel around districts than can span multiple counties. But Republican Sen. Paul Thurmond of Charleston argued the pay hike sends a message that legislators believe their raise is more important than government services. His amendment adds the money to the local government fund.