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Senate trying to put together pay, PEIA plan ahead of West Virginia teachers’ walkout


Charleston Gazette-Mail

Hundreds of teachers and other public school employees rally outside the House of Delegates chamber Friday. Teachers from across the state are demanding higher pay and health insurance funding. They’ve scheduled a walkout for Thursday and Friday.
(Gazette-Mail photo by Kenny Kemp)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Senate leadership is scrambling to come up with a compromise on pay and PEIA benefits before a scheduled statewide teachers walkout Thursday, but Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, said Monday it’s unlikely the Senate will support more than a 2 percent pay raise this year.

Legislation to provide pay raises to teachers, school service personnel and state employees (Senate Bill 267) has been parked in the Senate Rules Committee since Thursday, but the Senate announced that the first Rules Committee meeting of the session will take place Tuesday afternoon.

Carmichael said the plan is to put the bill on the active Senate calendar for consideration later Tuesday or Wednesday morning.

“We’re going to obviously try to have something worked out ahead of time,” he said, adding that the Senate also is working with the Governor’s Office to find funds to build the $29 million needed to freeze PEIA health care premiums and benefits at current levels into the state’s base budget, in lieu of the one-time raid on the state’s Rainy Day reserve funds proposed by the House.

“This is something that is such an enormous benefit,” Carmichael said of shifting $29 million a year in general revenue funds to freeze PEIA through 2018-19. “It impacts the degree that pay raises are involved, and all the other demands on state government.”

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