There continues to be resistance in the State Senate, which did include a pay raise for teachers in its budget. The House approved a full five-percent.
There is talk that Senate Republicans want to revisit some of the controversial education reforms that prompted teachers to hold a two-day strike. If not, the teachers may only get a two-percent pay raise, if anything at all.
“That’s an insult,” said Dale Lee, President of the West Virginia Education Association. “The Governor said in October that we were going to continue the investment with a five -percent pay raise to all education employees. To reduce that now is showing that they’re wanting to be punitive for the actions.”
“Teachers are going to get pay raises, in some form or fashion,” said Senator Rollan Roberts (R-Raleigh). “The Senate is saying we want some concessions here. We want some reform here. We want some improvement here.”
As always there are concerns about spending priorities. The Senate wants to spend $110 million for secondary road repairs, but some worry that means promised pay raises will vanish.
“Yes, I am very concerned. We have school teachers, school service personnel, that are being held up on their pay,” said Delegate Isaac Sponaugle (D-Pendleton). “We have all public employees that are getting a five-percent pay. They should also get a five-percent pay.”
On the other hand, “Last Dollar” tuition assistance for community and technical college student is getting bipartisan support in both chambers.
“I think it will be a good program to help ensure that we have qualified individuals to fill those middle-skilled jobs that we are trying to attract to West Virginia,” said House Majority Whip Paul Espinosa, (R-Jefferson).
Meanwhile, a banking fix for the states medical marijuana program passed both chambers and is off to the Governor for his signature.
7News West Virginia Political Reporter Mark Curtis continues to hear talk here that there might be a Special Session of the Legislature for all the things that did not get done in the regular 60-day session. That call is up to Governor Justice.