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March 2016

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March 23, 2016

PEIA Finance Board could revisit cuts after budget collapse

By Hoppy Kercheval
WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The state Public Employees Insurance Agency finance board has called a special meeting for next week where the board may again impose a series of controversial benefit reductions for school teachers and state workers and premium increases for retirees.

The finance board approved $120 million in cuts last year, but rescinded them in January after Governor...

March 24, 2016

Commentary: PEIA predicament brings pressure on lawmakers, governor

By Hoppy Kercheval
WV MetroNews

One of the critical pressure points in the ongoing discussions between the Tomblin administration and legislative leaders over a budget for next fiscal year is funding for the Public Employees Insurance Agency. PEIA is the state’s health insurance program for 220,000 public employees and retirees.

Last year, the PEIA finance board proposed a series of controversial...

March 24, 2016

PEIA shortfalls hinge on budget debate
By Chris Lawrence, MetroNews

The Finance Board of the Public Employees Insurance Agency is slated to meet next week in an emergency session. It’s likely the board will restore more than $120 Million in cuts the agency originally presented to insured state workers and retirees last year.

The lack of a budget for next fiscal year left the Finance Board with no other option.

“Fiduciarily they do have to do that,...

March 28, 2016

WV Governor Tomblin approves bill increasing penalties for passing stopped school buses
The Associated Press

CHARLESTON, West Virginia — West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has approved increased penalties for passing stopped school buses.

Tomblin signed the bill Thursday.

On a first offense, drivers passing a school bus that stopped to pick up or drop off students could be guilty of a misdemeanor, fined $250 to $500, imprisoned up to six months...

March 28, 2016

Budget impasse continues among state’s leading lawmakers
By Matt Maccaro , WV MetroNews

Leading lawmakers are trying to find a way to move forward with a budget, but so far there’s been little movement in the process.

House Speaker Tim Armstead said a budget was in place, but an announcement by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin of a $92 million dollar hole in projected revenue threw a wrench in their plans.

“We had basically reached an agreement with the...

March 29, 2016

Commentary: Tomblin faces decision on 180 days
By Hoppy Kercheval, WV MetroNews

For years, the goal of 180 days of instruction for public school children in West Virginia was taken lightly. Arbitrary start and end dates to the school year, combined with snow days, contributed to many counties consistently failing to meet the standard.

That changed in 2013 when the legislature passed Governor Tomblin’s comprehensive education reform bill, which opened the...

March 29, 2016

Kanawha supervisor: Bus passing law will hold people accountable
By Carrie Hodousek, WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Vehicle owners will now be held responsible for illegally passing a stopped school bus in West Virginia.

“We have videos on our buses on the side that get the people running the lights that we can identify the license plate number,” said Jimmy Lacy, supervisor of transportation at Kanawha County Schools.

Lacy said on Monday’s...

March 29, 2016

Two important education bills still sitting on Gov. Tomblin’s desk
By Matt Maccaro, WV MetroNews

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has about two days to make two big decisions on whether to sign a pair of bills that will affect education in West Virginia.

One bill would alter teaching standards now referred to as College and Career Readiness Standards, while the other would allow the use of banked time to count toward making up days lost due to inclement weather and...

March 30, 2016

PEIA board tries to bring ‘certainty’ to budget impasse
By Jeff Jenkins, WV MetroNews

The state PEIA Finance Board voted Wednesday afternoon to re-approve $120 million in benefit reductions for next fiscal year for the state workers’ health insurance plan.

The board also approved a plan that would soften the changes by using $43.5 million in new cash proposed by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. The status of that proposal remains up in the air as the impasse...

March 31, 2016

Tomblin says school calendar bill appears to take state “backwards”
By Jeff Jenkins, MetroNews

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says a bill that would change the public school calendar process “kind of takes us back a little bit.”

Tomblin will make a decision on the measure (HB 4171) by the end of the day Friday. April 1 is the deadline for the governor to sign or veto bills passed in the final hours of the 60-day legislative session.

The bill allows for...

March 31, 2016

PEIA board OKs $120M health plan cuts
The Associated Press

As a state budget standoff drags on, West Virginia is again teeing up larger cuts to health plans that would hike premiums and copays for about 230,000 state employees, teachers and retirees.

West Virginia's Public Employee Insurance Agency Finance Board on Wednesday approved $120 million in cuts from health plans. The board also passed a backup plan, should more money come its way in the state...

March 31, 2016

Commentary: Governor explains what deep cuts may look like
By Hoppy Kercheval, WV MetroNews

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin says without a tax increase, “we’re going to have to make some very, very serious cuts” to state spending to balance the budget for the 2017 fiscal year beginning July 1.

How serious? For example, Tomblin has told legislative leaders that public education spending would have to be cut by four percent, or $63 million, resulting in the...

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