West Virginia Senate Finance Does Not Consider Pay Raise Measure for Teachers

WHEELING — Legislation that gives West Virginia teachers and school employees a 5 percent raise wasn’t addressed at the Capitol in Charleston on Friday.

House Bill 4145 remains before the Senate Finance Committee, which did not meet. Committee Chairman Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, said he canceled the meeting because he has yet to receive a fiscal note explaining the full cost of the measure. He said he wanted to have the most explicit information available to members.

Fiscal notes are provided by the Legislature’s revenue department.

Senate Minority Leader Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, said it is not unusual for a fiscal note to come after a piece of legislation has been passed out of committee, and he made a suggestion.

When prior legislation gave the public school employees a 1 percent wage increase, there was a fiscal note attached.

“If we had that fiscal note for a 1 percent raise, multiply it by five and you have a ballpark figure of where that fiscal note is going to be,” Prezioso said.

Prezioso’s concern is if the 5 percent pay raise isn’t addressed, the teachers and school service personnel may take their seven-day strike into next week.

Blair called for a finance committee meeting to begin one hour after today’s Senate floor session ends. The Senate is scheduled to meet at 9:30 a.m.

Blair said there was no deliberation on HB 4145 before it was passed out of the House, 98-1. Blair’s daughter, Delegate Saira Blair, R-Berkeley, was the only dissenting vote.

“It is my duty to see the committee has before them the information to make the right decision…,” he said. “I’m not going to do it on a whim, and without the resources to do it.

“It’s not a delay tactic. It’s about getting the right information before the committee.”

Late Friday, Gov. Jim Justice announced he appointed a task force to conduct public hearings around the state to find solutions to problems with the Public Employees Insurance Agency. The governor’s Chief of Staff Mike Hall will chair the committee, which Justice said will feature members appointed by both the Legislature and the employee unions.