W.Va. House votes to use budget surpluses to help fund PEIA

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- With striking teachers filling its galleries, the West Virginia House has unanimously voted to use part of annual budget surpluses to help fund their health insurance.

The bill, which needs Senate approval, would dedicate 20 percent of general revenue surpluses to stabilize the Public Employees Insurance Agency.

According to legislators, the state's year-end surpluses have ranged from about $12 million to $339 million. Half those surpluses go to West Virginia's rainy day fund.

Teachers and support staff stayed out of work Thursday, thousands gathering at the Capitol in Charleston, decrying low pay, small raises and projected hikes in their insurance costs.

While the PEIA board has agreed to freeze insurance rates next year using money found somewhere in the state budget, the teachers want a more permanent funding fix.

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