UPDATE: W.Va. regular session ends, overtime on education looms

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - UPDATE: 03/10/19

The West Virginia legislature has ended its regular session and is now moving into overtime to deal with teacher pay raises and other education issues.

Lawmakers capped their 60-day regular session Saturday and started a special session on education that is expected to reconvene later this year.

Republican Gov. Jim Justice called the extra session. He's asked legislators to meet with teachers, parents and other stakeholders before returning.

The Senate has previously passed a budget with an unappropriated line item earmarked for the teacher pay raises that will be addressed in the special session.

Legislators also sent multiple proposals to the governor's office Saturday, including measures to reduce taxes on West Virginia steam coal and to allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control to women ages 18 or older.

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE: 03/08/19

The West Virginia Senate has passed a state budget with money earmarked for a potential teacher pay raise.

Senators approved the budget Friday, ending an impasse by setting aside funding for the 5 percent raises in an unappropriated line item that will be addressed in a special session.

Republican Gov. Jim Justice has called for a special legislative session to be held after the 60-day regular session ends Saturday.

He's asked lawmakers to go out and seek input from teachers, parents and others so legislators can return and address the raises and additional education issues.

The budget now heads to the governor's office.

Earlier this session, The House of Delegates passed a measure dealing solely with teacher raises, but the proposal languished in a Senate committee.


UPDATE: 03/06/19

Gov. Jim Justice issued the following statement Wednesday:

“With 3 days left in the legislative session, we still have not achieved what I promised the people of West Virginia – a 5% pay raise for all teachers, school service personnel, state troopers, and all state employees. It’s very clear to me now that we won’t get to the finish line in the remaining 3 days, but it’s critically important that we still get there before the new fiscal year begins on July 1, 2019.

“In order to follow through on the 5% pay raise that was promised we have to take a different path. Tomorrow I will call a special session to focus on education betterment in West Virginia. This special session will begin as soon as the current session ends, and the Legislature will recess immediately so they can go out and listen to teachers, parents, community leaders, and all those with a vested interest in making education better in West Virginia. When the legislators return to the session, they will be ready to tackle the issues and get it done.

“There are many education reforms that are worthy of consideration such as reforming the school aid formula to accurately reflect the hardships our smaller counties face and increasing the number of school nurses, counselors, and psychologists. These all deserve adequate time to debate and consider, and a special session with a single focus is the right way to do it.

“The money required to cover the 5% raise will be included as an unappropriated expense in the FY 2020 budget that will be passed before the current legislative session ends. This means the money is safely stored.

“I know our legislators, education community, and the people of West Virginia want our education system to be better and believe that our employees deserve a raise, so you have my word that we will get it done.”


UPDATE: 3/6/2019

The West Virginia Senate has passed a state budget that doesn't include funding for teacher raises, almost certainly setting up a potential showdown with the House of Delegates.

Senators voted 20-14 on the proposal Wednesday, one day after they gutted a House version of the budget that would have raised teacher salaries by about 5 percent.

The bill now heads back to the House. Lawmakers there are expected to call for a conference committee where senators and delegates will be selected to come up with a final version of the budget.

Republican Gov. Jim Justice says he wants teachers to get a pay increase and has been lobbying lawmakers.

Teachers' union leaders say they are hopeful educators and school service personnel will end up getting raises.


ORIGINAL STORY: 3/2/2019

The West Virginia House of Delegates has passed its version of the state budget for 2019-2020 that includes funding for teacher raises.

The House voted 92-5 Saturday afternoon on the $4.6 billion spending bill.

The Charleston Gazette Mail reports a key difference between the House bill and the Senate's is the funding for teacher raises. The House bill passed Saturday includes $67.7 million to cover the raises, averaging 5 percent overall. The Senate version (SB 150) does not include funding for pay raises for teachers and school service personnel.

Senate Finance Chairman Craig Blair has said pay raises will be included if and when the Senate passes a House pay raise bill (HB 2730). That bill has been stuck in the Senate Education Committee for more than a week.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, http://wvgazettemail.com.

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)



 
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