By Hoppy Kercheval
The House Finance Committee Wednesday tried to straighten out a pay raise plan for school teachers and service workers that was botched in the House Education Committee two days earlier.
Finance Committee members switched the raise package back to a one-year $1,000 across the board increase for teachers, from a three-year $6,000 raise approved by the Education Committee.
The $6,000 raise plan surprised key lawmakers, the teacher unions and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who proposed a more modest increase at the start of the session of two percent. It also put teacher organizations in the awkward position of supporting a scaled back raise to ensure passage.
Tomblin and lawmakers have been working on finding the money in the budget for a raise of two percent, $1,000 or $837 – the plan has shifted several times during the session – without raising taxes. A larger raise would be impossible to fund without a tax increase.
The legislation provides for a two percent across the board raise for school service workers.
The bill now goes to the House floor. Earlier in the session the Senate voted to increase teacher pay by $837.