W.Va. Gov. Justice says he'd veto current legislative education bill

Published: Jan. 29, 2019 at 4:24 PM EST
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West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice says he would veto a comprehensive education bill now under consideration in the Legislature.

Justice said at a news conference Tuesday that lawmakers should instead consider passing his original intent of giving teachers and other state employees a 5 percent pay raise without the multiple facets of the bill now before the Republican-led Senate.

"I am sure there are things within that bill that should be adopted, but I just wish we would look at those issues individually," Justice said.

The bill has upset teachers' unions and other groups. Among other things, it would create public charter schools, increase elementary school class sizes in public schools, establish savings accounts for families to pay for private school and require teachers to sign off annually on union dues. Some call the bill payback for last year's teachers' strike.

A coalition of educators attended the news conference, and were satisfied with the governor's remarks.

"He has made a commitment publicly here that he would veto any bill that was not his clean bill, so that does give encouragement to me and I think it would give it to the members of my union," said American Federation of Teachers (AFT) West Virginia President Fred Albert.

He continued, "He asked the union leaders to be open-minded, I think we are open-minded, we want what is best for our students and we know that we can improve. We are not saying that we can't but the bill has so many things that do not belong in a bill of this magnitude."

Senate President Mitch Carmichael says the current bill would improve outcomes for West Virginia students.

The Senate as a whole will be acting as a committee to review the omnibus bill, and they are starting that discussion at 11 a.m. Wednesday.