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UPDATE: Senate President wants to use $58M to fix public insurance instead of giving pay raises

(WSAZ)
Published: Feb. 28, 2018 at 5:34 PM EST
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UPDATE 3/1/18 @ 10 p.m.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael says he wants to take the $58 million that Gov. Jim Justice planned to use for the pay raise bill and use it to fix public insurance instead.

Carmichael also says the bill will now move to a committee instead of the Senate for a vote.

He said the Senate is killing all seniority bills that educators are concerned about. Instead of spending $30 million to freeze public insurance (PEIA), Carmichael says he wants to put it in the budget and not use rainy day fund money.

Carmichael says the Legislature needs a dedicated revenue fund for PEIA. He also says the pay raise that had already passed is sufficient.

"It's easy to come in here and just vote for what people want, but that's not what the general citizens expect of West Virginia," Carmichael said. ""That's what's been done around here for too long."

Teachers, service personnel, State Police, and other state employees have voiced concerns about changes to the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA).

Sen. John Unger (D-Berkeley, 16) said if the Senate doesn’t pass the pay raise bill Thursday, he is calling on not just educators -- but all West Virginians -- to come to the Capitol to protest on Friday.

House Bill 4145 has been sent to the Senate Finance Committee, but finance committee members were not expected to meet Thursday afternoon to discuss it.

Some, like Democratic Senator Richard Ojeda from Logan County, are advocating raising the severance tax on natural gas and using that funding to address PEIA.

"How about shared prosperity?" Ojeda said. "Let everybody be able to benefit from this, and we can."

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.


UPDATE 2/28/18 @ 9:30 p.m.

Teachers feel like they're one step closer to getting part of what they want, but they're skeptical the next hurdle can be cleared.

Wednesday, the House waived the constitution to get three readings of the pay raise bill in one night. The bill passed with 98 yes votes.

The Senate had already adjourned Wednesday night by the time the House voted, so teachers will have to wait at least one more day to find out if this deal will become official.

"It's hard to give up this fight when we don't know what the Senate's going to do with it," Wendy Dillon, who teaches 4th grade in Marion County, said. "If it doesn't move through the Senate, it's dead."

Earleir Wednesday evening, the finance committee amended the pay raise bill to include state troopers to get a 5 percent raise along with school employees.

"I'm going to put my trust and faith in our governor that he would not lie to us, and that this money is going to be here," Delegate Isaac Sponaugle, a Republican from Pendleton County, said.

Sponaugle sarcastically remarked it was convenient for the governor to come up with $58 million a day after he'd been criticized at town halls with teachers in the northern part of the state.

"We are putting our faith in what the revenue estimates are going to be," said Carol MIller, R-Cabell.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael speculated Wednesday that as many as 22 Republicans in the 34-member Senate will oppose Governor Justice's plan.


UPDATE 2/28/18 @ 6:45 p.m.

Nearly 25 hours after the Governor proposed a five percent pay raise for teachers in West Virginia the House has passed the bill with an amendment.

The amendment adds that West Virginia State Police will get a five percent raise as opposed to the three percent initially set-forth by Governor Jim Justice.

House Bill 4145 increases the annual salaries of members of the West Virginia State Police, public school teachers and school service personnel.

Other state employees will receive a three percent pay raise which will be included in the fiscal year 2019 budget bill.

The bill now heads to the Senate which has adjourned for the day Wednesday.

Members of the senate will be back in session Thursday at 11 a.m..

ORIGINAL STORY 2/28/18 @ 5:34 p.m.

A bill to give teachers a 5 percent pay raise is headed to the West Virginia House.

House Bill 4145 was approved Wednesday evening by the House Finance Committee.

This is the bill that includes Gov. Jim Justice's new revenue estimates and would allow teachers and school service personnel to get a five percent raise. All other state employees would get a three percent raise.

The committee did make an amendment to the bill that includes State Police getting a five percent raise.

The House is expected to reconvene tonight to discuss the bill.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.

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