Statement from Three Education Organizations Regarding Action on Agreement Items
Yesterday we arrived at an agreement with the governor regarding moving forward towards a permanent resolution on PEIA and salaries. We based those discussion on the premise of parties attempting to work out differences in good faith. The Governor has revised his revenue estimates and sent those to the respective Finance chairs. The pay raise bill, HB 4145, passed House Finance and is expected to pass the House tonight.
Late this afternoon, the Governor issued an Executive Order creating a process for a long-term solution to PEIA. The Executive Order guarantees representation by all 3 education organizations, public employees, retirees and health care experts and guarantees all employee concerns regarding PEIA are up for discussion. The task force will hold its organizational meeting on or before March 15, 2018.
The Governor has stated, “There are several possibilities that will be looked at for the revenue we need to solve the PEIA issues once and for all. The possibilities of additional severance taxes on oil and gas, gaming revenue from sports betting, tax dollars being generated from our roads projects, continuing growth in our economy and the possibility of putting the insurance out for competitive bids are just a few; everything is going to be looked at.”
While the Task Force completes its work, and for the next 17-months, there continues to be a moratorium on changes to PEIA, increases in health insurance premiums, co-pays, deductibles, MOOP, or the prescription drug plan through July 1, 2019. The premiums based on total family income and the Go365 plan are also eliminated.
We have assurances the pieces of legislation we opposed – elimination of seniority, education savings accounts, and the elimination of payroll deduction will not move for the remainder of the session.
As we stated yesterday after the governor spoke, we are watching very closely and if things are not progressing as promised, we will take further action as necessary.
We believe the best course of action is to return to school tomorrow; however, we realize not everyone will.
The commitment to public education will always be our top priority; we will continue to work in our schools, communities and state to raise the profession for the benefit of our future, West Virginia’s children.