BY JIM MCCONVILLE
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Attention will be paid to West Virginia teachers, according to Gov. Jim Justice.
Speaking before an estimated audience of 150 at the Citizens Fire Company in Charles Town on Thursday, Justice said the state has to pitch in to help public school systems to compensate teachers by offering salaries competitive with the surrounding states of Virginia, Maryland, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Justice outlined his state budget proposal, saying he will tackle the state’s gaping budget hole by raising new state revenue with a cocktail of new consumer taxes.
Justice acknowledged West Virginia public schools are at a competitive disadvantage.
“The bottom line is that we have to compensate these people more,”Justice said. “We’ve gotten ourselves into a non-competitive position. We’ve got to find a way to fund our schools in a proper way. We are putting a Band-Aid on a cancer. We have to find a way to address the problem and move forward.”
Justice said the state’s school systems are now economically strapped to the point where teachers are compelled to dig into their own pockets.
“The teacher oftentimes is looked to come up with a way to buy the pencils and the crayons,” Justice said.
Justice outlined his state budget proposal he says will tackle the state’s budget deficit by raising new state revenue with a cocktail of new consumer taxes.
Justice said money generated from new taxes will produce an estimated $2.8 billion road construction fund that would be used to generate an estimated 48,000 construction jobs in the state.
According to Justice, funding aid for state public schools could be earmarked from the income and payroll taxes generated by newly hired state construction workers.
“The 48,000 road construction jobs will generate $250 million in payroll taxes,” Justice said. “That money can go do something. We are under funded. We’re trying to get through the wickets — you can’t do it without hurting people.”
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