By PHIL KABLER
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice said Thursday that West Virginia teachers, school service personnel and other state employees should consider it a “happy day,” with plans progressing to freeze pending Public Employees Insurance Agency health premiums for a year and to give fiscally prudent pay raises.
“I think the prudent thing and the smart money is to fix PEIA like we’ve done, and the smart money is to stay at 1-1-1-1-1,” Justice said at a news conference Thursday, referring to a proposal to give teachers five consecutive 1 percent annual pay raises.
Rolling back those rate hikes will leave about a $23 million hole in PEIA’s budget that the Legislature will have to fill this session, and Justice said a House proposal to give a 2 percent pay raise to teachers, school service personnel and other state employees this year instead of his proposed 1 percent increase would cost another $23 million.
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