Educators want more than one-percent pay raise
By JOSELYN KING
GLEN DALE, W.Va. — Northern Panhandle teachers believe they are worth more than the 1 percent or 2 percent yearly raise for them being considered by the West Virginia Legislature, while they also believe students are worth more than the 5 percent worth of severance tax presently paid by the oil and natural gas industries.
During a teachers’ town hall meeting with state legislators Saturday at John Marshall High School, the teachers called for state lawmakers to pass House Bill 4341– a measure that would dedicate specific severance tax revenue to the Public Employees Insurance Agency fund.
Recent weeks have seen teachers speak out against approved increases in their PEIA premiums, and call proposed pay increases inadequate to fund their health insurance.
“What do you think is taxed at a higher rate (in West Virginia)? The shirt on your back or the minerals under the ground?” Fluharty asked those attending.
He told them the state sales tax on the shirt is 6 percent, while the minerals are taxed at 5 percent — and the energy companies get additional tax breaks on that amount.
Fluharty was joined on the discussion panel by fellow Democrats Joe Canestraro and Mike Ferro, both D-Marshall, Phil Diserio, D-Brooke, and David Pethtel, D-Wetzel.
Organizers said Senate Majority Leader Ryan Ferns, R-Ohio; Senate Majority Whip, Ryan Weld, R-Brooke; and Sens. Mike Maroney, R-Marshall, and Charles Clements, R-Wetzel, were all contacted to attend. Organizers said these GOP members either didn’t respond or said they had prior commitments.
In the middle of the panel sat the lone Republican — Delegate Erikka Storch, R-Ohio. …
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