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WV House passes bills to create $150 million PEIA reserve fund

By PHIL KABLER

Charleston Gazette-Mail

House Finance Chairman Eric Householder, R-Berkeley, answers questions from delegates about House Bill 3139, which requires state agencies to come up with $45 million to cover PEIA costs for employees paid through special revenue or federal funds, during Tuesday’s House of Delegates floor session. The bill passed the House on a 93-6 vote.
(Gazette-Mail photo by Chris Dorst)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Two bills intended to fulfill Gov. Jim Justice’s pledge to set aside $150 million to offset future cost increases for PEIA health insurance benefits were headed to the Senate on Tuesday after passing the House of Delegates by wide margins — despite concern that one of the bills poses a $16 million unfunded mandate for state colleges and universities.

The governor’s bill to transfer $105 million in 2018-19 budget surplus into the new Public Employees Insurance Agency reserve fund (House Bill 2665) passed unanimously, but issues arose over a companion measure (House Bill 3139) that requires state agencies come up with $45 million to cover employees who are paid through special revenue — funds raised from fees, not taxes — or federal funds.

That includes about $16 million assessed to higher education institutions to account for the portion of employee salaries paid through tuition and fees, not from state appropriations.

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