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West Virginia Gov. Justice’s 1 percent pay raise bill clears first committee


Charleston Gazette-Mail

Mike McKown, director of the state Budget Office, speaks Thursday in Charleston during a Senate committee meeting on Gov. Jim Justice’s pay raise bill.
(Gazette-Mail photo by Craig Hudson)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia legislators took the first step toward approving Gov. Jim Justice’s 1 percent pay raise for teachers, school service personnel and other state employees Thursday by advancing Senate Bill 267, authorizing the raise, from the Senate Government Organization Committee.

The committee did not amend the bill to increase the amount of the raise, but Chairman Ed Gaunch, R-Kanawha, said that “very well could happen” when the Senate Finance Committee next takes up the bill.

“It’s a sad commentary we’ve gotten to this point,” Gaunch said of past legislatures neglecting public employee wages for years. “It’s not a new phenomenon. It’s not a Democrat or Republican phenomenon.”

The bill provides raises for three categories of employees whose salaries are written into state code: Public school teachers; school service personnel; and West Virginia State Police employees. All other state employees will have their 1 percent pay raises built into the 2018-19 budget bill.

Sen. Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, said he was disappointed that the legislation provides only a single-year raise, when Gov. Jim Justice discussed multi-year raises, including a series of five 1 percent annual raises for teachers, in his State of the State address.

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