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Justice signs teacher pay raise bill on eve of walkout


Charleston Gazette-Mail

Gov. Jim Justice (File photo)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice signed the bill Wednesday to raise the salaries of state government employees, despite the inadvertent removal of language that would make the teachers’ pay raises permanent and the teachers’ walkout planned for Thursday.

In a news release issued late Wednesday night, Justice said the Legislature “did the responsible thing” in passing Senate Bill 267, which will give teachers a 2 percent raise in 2018-19, and a 1 percent raise each year for the next two years. The bill will also give school support staff and State Police a 2 percent raise this year and a 1 percent raise next year.

“We need to keep our kids and teachers in the classroom,” Justice said. “We certainly recognize our teachers are underpaid and this is a step in the right direction to addressing their pay issue. The PEIA board has also voted to approve changes I recommended — I’ve asked and the PEIA board has voted to eliminate the mandated participation in the Go365 program, the use of combined household income to determine rates, and to freeze the plan for 16 months while we examine it and enact a long-term solution to the PEIA problems.

“Now we need to turn our focus back to continuing public education reforms and making our state educational system the best in the country.”

In the rush to amend and pass the bill Tuesday evening, the West Virginia Senate inadvertently removed language clarifying that the pay increases for teachers are to continue after June 2021.

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