Government, Latest News

Legislative LookAhead: W.Va. leadership discusses taxes, education ahead of session

Public education, health insurance for government employees and restructuring the ailing Department of Health and Human Resources will be key priorities during the upcoming legislative session

By LEAH WILLINGHAM – Associated Press

The Register-Herald of Beckley

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Public education, health insurance for government employees and restructuring the ailing Department of Health and Human Resources will be key priorities for West Virginia lawmakers during the new legislative session beginning next week.

Also, tax cuts, if Republican leaders can agree on a plan for how to do it.

Lawmakers in both the Senate and the House of Delegates are planning to introduce legislation that would place teaching assistants in early-grade classrooms, Republican Senate President Craig Blair said during a preview of the upcoming session organized by the West Virginia Press Association Friday.

The proposal comes after West Virginia scored historically low on the most recent nationwide reading and math assessment. The Republican supermajority has focused on expanding alternative education programs like charter schools and school choice programs.

“We’ve done just about all we can do for alternative education,” Blair said. Now, it’s time to focus on public education.

Republican House Speaker Roger Hanshaw said if students are not able to master reading skills at young age, “we’ve hamstrung them for life.”

The proposal was introduced last year by Hanshaw, but the legislation failed to advance. However, he said he feels confident there will be more buy-in on the proposal this year.

Legislative leadership also said changes are long overdue to the Public Employees Insurance Agency, which provides provides health care coverage to state and local government employees and their families. The total enrollment is about 75,000 active members.

Rising healthcare costs and concerns about the long-term solvency of the Public Employees Insurance Agency was a major driver of the statewide teachers’ walkout in 2018, and public employees say not enough has been done to address those issues since.

On Thursday, WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital announced that it will stop accepting Public Employees Insurance Agency patients July 1 because of low reimbursement rates. …

Read more: https://www.register-herald.com/news/nation_world/w-va-leadership-discusses-taxes-education-ahead-of-session/article_4d18ae67-58d0-59d6-a0e9-598eea290952.html

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter