CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The West Virginia teacher’s strike this year is still reverberating at the capitol. While teachers – and all state employees got a 5% pay raise. Now the Governor wants to double down in January’s Legislative Session.
“I think the number one thing right out of the get-go, is we need to do the 5% pay raise for the teachers and all of our government employees. We need to absolutely commit the funds that I said we would commit to PEIA. It’s not a permanent fix, but it sure gets us way down the trail,” said Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia.
Before the teachers strike and ultimate pay raise, West Virginia ranked at the bottom for starting teacher pay in the region. So the Mountain State is still playing catch-up.
“We have to continue that investment. But the thing we have to remember is that we have to come up with a long-range plan, to make our salaries competitive with the contiguous states,” said Dale Lee, President, West Virginia Education Association.
Teacher’s unions were a big factor in many political races across West Virginia on Tuesday. Analysts say they’ll likely try to exert more clout at the capitol, this coming session.
“Five to ten years ago, teachers were not a priority in this state. The revolution happened this year with the teachers strike. Maybe education in general, and teachers, in particular, are going to get needed attention,” said Prof. Robert Rupp, Political Analyst from West Virginia Wesleyan College.
The new Legislature will have gains by Democrats in both Houses, but Republicans maintain a solid majority.
Just days after the election, one thing is clear — the agenda is already forming as to what the top priorities should be when the Legislature convenes here in January.