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W.Va. House Finance Committee OKs PEIA funding bill; unclear what will avoid school work stoppage


Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With a now-announced statewide public school employees work stoppage set for Thursday and Friday, a legislative committee advanced Monday a bill to put a fifth of annual general revenue surpluses toward funding Public Employees Insurance Agency health coverage.

The House Finance Committee action on that bill (House Bill 4625), which was “originated” in the committee Monday instead of through the normal filing process, came the same day the full Senate amended a bill to provide more funding to PEIA and changed another bill (Senate Bill 494) to specify it doesn’t affect the current presidents of the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia and West Virginia Education Association school employee unions.

S.B. 494 would erase language in current law saying that officers “with a statewide professional teaching association” still get credit, for state teachers retirement benefit purposes, for years of service they spend on leave working as officers rather than as teachers. Sen. Robert Karnes, R-Upshur, reiterated on the Senate floor Monday that he didn’t think the bill, even without amendment, would have affected Christine Campbell, the current AFT-WV president, and Dale Lee, the current WVEA president.

“Wow, thank you very much for that,” Lee said sarcastically Monday evening. “What it says is, no one else will want to succeed us because they know they’re not going to get a retirement service, it’s still a punitive bill, it’s still a way of attacking our leadership.”

As for what he thought of H.B. 4625, Lee said the surplus revenue amount it would provide would be “a difficult number to pin down because of the revenue projections.”

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