W.Va. Gov. Jim Justice on teacher protests

Published: Feb. 23, 2018 at 12:43 PM EST
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As thousands of teachers continue to protest at the West Virginia Capitol and around the state, Governor Jim Justice is speaking out exclusively with WSAZ's Amanda Barren about their concerns.

When discussing a 4% raise for teachers over the next three years, Justice says he's not sure what else can be done from a financial standpoint.

'At the end of the day, you could say we'll just do a 10% raise for all state employees, but you stand a chance of breaking the whole state and my job is to do the prudent thing... We all wish we could do more. We know this is important and everyone would like to do more, but it's not the right thing to do.'

Justice also mentioned long-term funding after the 17-month freeze on PEIA premiums.

'What needs to be done is a long term, permanent fix. I've got that, but it's going to take longer than 6-8 days to pull this off... Whether it be the highways or the China ideas that are on the table or our growth in general. Tourism also has a real, real chance.'

When asked about teachers being fearful of an empty promise, Justice said education should be our centerpiece.

'For crying out loud, when is enough going to be enough to show my dedication to education. I can't give them a permanent fix for PEIA today, no matter what I can do.'

Justice has not yet personally addressed the scores of teachers protesting in and around the State Capitol.

'I don't think it's prudent at all to talk to a group of thousands of people. We just won't get anywhere.'

'Our teachers need to go back to the classroom. Period. Our kids need to be in school. We need to stop disrupting our families. It's silly to think there will be a permanent fix to PEIA in the next few days. There is a commitment, an absolute commitment from me, the House and the Senate to find a way to fix PEIA.'

'It's just a matter of trust. At the end of the day, I can't deliver on that at this moment, but I'll get it done.'

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