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Justice tells school workers to end walkout; proposes natural gas special session to fund PEIA


Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Telling public school employees it is in their best interest to end the three-day walkout and return to their schools, Gov. Jim Justice on Monday proposed leveraging the natural gas industry’s desire for co-tenancy/joint development legislation to include an increase in severance taxes that could help fund the Public Employees Insurance Agency.

“I would tell you, you need to be back in the classroom. Our kids need to be back in the classroom,” Justice said during a school employees’ town hall meeting at Wheeling Park High, the first of three town halls scheduled Monday, and the first since he held two town hall meetings in Southern West Virginia on Feb. 6.

Justice later added that he believes the walkout is hurting the state’s image nationally.

“You need to be in your classrooms. We don’t need to be on CNN,” Justice said.

At a frequently contentious meeting, streamed live on the governor’s Facebook page, Justice told teachers that continuing the walkout would “end up hurting many, including yourselves.” He said it is not feasible to provide additional pay raises beyond the 2-percent-1-percent-1-percent package he signed into law Wednesday or to find a permanent fix for PEIA in the final days of the regular session.

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