Thousands of teachers continue to gather at the West Virginia state capitol to protest for a 4th day of the statewide work stoppage. Schools across the state are closed.
Republican leaders believe they have given teachers the best pay raise and PEIA fix that the state can afford right now, but teachers worry that rising health insurance could wipe out any raise.
Leaders from two unions met with the House speaker and Senate Presidents, and say some progress has been made.
Governor Justice has mentioned the possibility of holding a special session to increase the gas severance tax in order to generate additional funds.
The West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association is not happy about that approach.
Executive Director Anne Blankenship issued the following statement following comments from Governor Jim Justice:
WVONGA is very concerned with the Governor’s statements regarding a severance tax increase and a possible veto of House Bill 4268, the co-tenancy bill.
Great progress has been made by stakeholders on this co-tenancy bill to ensure that investment in West Virginia by the oil and gas industry continues to boost the state’s economy and create family-sustaining jobs that support schools and teachers. His plans to disrupt that progress will hurt all of us, including our teachers, by keeping West Virginia’s laws uncompetitive and discouraging development in this state.
The oil and gas industry has invested billions of dollars in West Virginia and has paid over $1.3 billion in property and severance taxes over the past five years alone. The current severance tax in West Virginia is higher than in Ohio and Pennsylvania and raising it even more will send a chilling message to companies investing in the state.
We will continue to keep you updated as the work stoppage continues.