2021 Legislative Talking Points

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Our Values: 2021 Legislative Talking Points

What are the hot issues expected to generate chatter during the upcoming legislative session? It will most likely be a mix of old and new issues that will be taken up by the Legislature in the 60-day session (2/10-4/10). Read below to see what we stand for, current issues facing our public schools and educators and possible issues.

Students deserve great public schools
All students deserve schools with the resources, programs, and curriculum to nurture their curiosity, imagination, spirit, talents, and desire to learn. Especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. Stand with us and together we can provide the resources and opportunities our students and educators need to be successful.

The pandemic shows the value of public education. Local schools have always been centers of communities. Even during the pandemic, our local public schools organized hybrid or on-line instruction, and provided meals, internet access and more for their community. WVEA members have found creative ways to reach and teach our students. It meant we worked longer hours and in ways we’ve never worked before. We came together to help each other to provide quality instruction.

Public Schools: Now more than ever!
Funding for Public Education – #FundOurSchools #NowMoreThanEver

  • The issues that our schools deal with mirror the challenges confronting our students and families during this pandemic. Schools house heroes: school employees who have worked above and beyond to teach students and make sure everyone is safe. 
  • If we’re serious about every child’s future, let’s get serious about doing what works. This means resourcing our public schools so that students have inviting classrooms and class sizes conducive for quality instruction, a well-rounded curriculum and support services for students who need them.
  • Decreasing enrollment due to the pandemic means a loss of resources and a loss of jobs. Public schools deserve to be held harmless financially.
  • We oppose any proposals that will take money away from our public schools. Charter schools, vouchers, and education savings accounts (ESAs) all take money from our already financially strapped local school systems.

Income Tax – #CutsDon’tHeal

  • Why, during a pandemic and an economic recession, would the Governor and lawmakers consider cutting the income tax?
  • The income tax is fair. Proposals to cut the income tax simply continue to unfairly shift the burden of paying taxes from the wealthy and from corporations to the backs of working people.
  • The income tax and is the largest source of revenue in our state, bringing in $2.16 billion. That’s 43% of the budget. How will those funds be replaced and by whom?
  • Using the sales tax, for example, to replace income tax revenues is unfair because that means the $15 per hour worker is paying the same tax as corporate executives making $100,000 or more per year.
  • Kansas slashed income taxes in an effort to stimulate the economy, but those policies resulted in ballooning budget deficits that caused cuts to public schools and lost jobs. Attempts to replace revenue with sales and “sin” taxes (on tobacco and alcohol) failed and ultimately income taxes were reinstated. The state is still trying to recover. 

Manufacturing Inventory Tax

  • Cutting items such as the manufacturing inventory tax hurts schools, law enforcement and public services. Nurses, emergency personnel, teachers and police officers will be adversely impacted.

Pensions – #FundOurPension

  • Maintaining the funding of our pensions and the current plan of paying off the unfunded liabilities is important for active employees and current retirees to have a guaranteed a pension.
  • We are opposed to refinancing the remaining balance. The current plan calls for the liabilities to be paid off in 2034.

PEIA – #PEIA #KeepThePromise #HealthCare

  • This COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance of healthcare and funding PEIA. Cutting state revenues will make it more difficult to fully fund PEIA. A long-term funding solution must be found for PEIA.
  • The Task Force pushed for funding PEIA through the general fund, which allows for various funding sources.
  • Promises were made to find a long-term funding solution for PEIA. Promises must be kept.

Possible Issues
Vouchers / ESAs – #NoVouchers  #NoESA #ESAShortchangesKids It’s about “their” kids, not OUR kids / Don’t shortchange our kids

  • Voucher and ESA schemes rob our students and educators of much needed resources and opportunities.
  • Voucher and ESA proponents are making this about “their” kids, not about all our kids. West Virginia’s Constitution prioritizes a free public education for all students, not a select few.
  • Public dollars need to go to public education and should require accountability and transparency.
  • Voucher and “education savings accounts – ESAs” schemes are just a ruse because even with the voucher, most of our families can’t afford to send their children to private schools.
  • At a time when our nation and our state face serious budget challenges, the last thing we need to do is spend scarce taxpayer dollars on vouchers for private/religious schools that are not accountable and that pick and choose their students. 
  • Vouchers and ESAs do not reduce public education costs. They actually increase costs by requiring taxpayers to fund two school systems and their bureaucracies – one public and one private. The money that goes into a private or corporate ESA or tuition account is money that has been reallocated from the public school budget.

Charters – #NoCharterSchools #JustSayNo #ChartersHurtKids

  • We are opposed to charter schools because they take money from existing classrooms and rob our teachers and students of resources.
  • We finished the first of a three-year Charter School pilot that dictates local schools be the only authorizer. That’s how it should be. Local boards of education and educators know best how to educate local students.
  • Charter school companies didn’t get what they wanted and now they want to change the law. They should work within the current framework to establish a charter school.

Payroll Deduction – #Leavemypayalone

  • Payroll deduction is designed to dictate how we spend our paychecks, to silence our voice and to weaken our public labor unions.
  • Freedom is an essential right. Education employees in West Virginia have the right to spend their paychecks as they see fit. Just as I have the right to choose to join an organization, I have the right to make payroll deductions sent to my church or United Way or an organization of my choice. I can choose to join my union and have my dues deducted as I see fit.
  • West Virginia lawmakers usually call for less government and less intrusion into our private lives. Keep it that way. And if they dictate how we can spend our paychecks now, what will they do next?