Justice administration changes pay raise bill to reflect multi-year increases

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Justice administration changes pay raise bill to reflect multi-year increases
By Jeff Jenkins, WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice’s pay raise bill for state workers now includes language that says it will be a multi-year raise for teachers and all other state workers.

The bill (SB 267) passed the Senate Finance Committee on a voice vote Thursday afternoon. The committee voted on a bill that was different from the original language that called for a one-year one percent raise for teachers, service personnel, state troopers and all other state workers.

Justice administration Policy Council James Bailey told committee members the governor wanted the bill to reflect his initial plans of a five-year raise for teachers and a two-year increase for everyone else. Bailey said the change mirrors what the governor said in his State of the State Address.

Teachers have been meeting in various counties across the state expressing their frustration with a one percent increase along with increase in health insurance coverage. Some have talked about a work stoppage. Senator Corey Palumbo (D-Kanawha) wasn’t sure how much the language change would change things.

“I think that when the governor talked about five percent (in the State of the State Address) and the bill was just one percent for one year–that’s not helping the situation. So I think that this may not help the situation very much by going back to say what he said in his speech but it’s certainly not going to hurt,” Palumbo said.

The multi-year raises were already reflected in the administration’s six-year budget plan. The bill would just codify those plans, Bailey said.

Teacher pay raises would cost more than $9 million a year. It would be around $450 per teacher per year. That combined with the annual step raise would give teachers about $1,000 more a year.

The bill spells out service personnel raises by the month. Those workers would receive $22 more a month for two years.

The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.