|By Bob Weaver|
UPDATE 3/9/2019 - A bill to increase salaries for members of the West Virginia State Police by 5% has passed the House.
By a vote of 100-0, Senate Bill 544, which would increase salaries for state troopers passed the West Virginia House Friday and now goes back to the Senate.
Originally, the bill was within the teachers salary bill.
UPDATE 3/7/2018 - Gov. Jim Justice is calling for a special legislative session to address what he says are serious education concerns statewide.
The governor released the following statement Wednesday night:
"With 3 days left in the legislative session, we still have not achieved what I promised the people of West Virginia - a 5% pay raise for all teachers, school service personnel, state troopers, and all state employees. It's very clear to me now that we won't get to the finish line in the remaining 3 days, but it's critically important that we still get there before the new fiscal year begins on July 1, 2019."
The special session will commence immediately next week.
Political watchers say the legislature, regarding their failure to approve the promised pay raise, could be directed toward teachers striking again, which is projected to lose them support among taxpayers.
The House, Senate and Gov. Justice are bouncing off each other playing good guy, bad guy, a source told the Hur Herald, supporting the pay increase.
UPDATE 3/6/2018 - The teacher pay raise is inching closer to the cliff.
The West Virginia Senate has passed a state budget that doesn't include funding for teacher raises, almost certainly setting up a potential showdown with the House of Delegates.
The legislative session ends shortly.
Senators voted 20-14 on the proposal Wednesday, one day after they gutted a House version of the budget that would have raised teacher salaries by about 5 percent.
The bill now heads back to the House. Lawmakers there are expected to call for a conference committee where senators and delegates will be selected to come up with a final version of the budget.
Teachers' union leaders say they are hopeful educators and school service personnel will end up getting raises.
3/6/2019- WV media says continued maneuvering over a pay raise for teachers, service personnel and State Police continues in the state Senate.
Their session ends next week.
Minority Leader Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, made a motion during Tuesday's floor session to discharge the pay raise bill from the Education Committee.
Addressing Senate President Mitch Carmichael, Minority Delegate Roman Prezioso (D) said, "There have been a series of events with you present, the governor and the speaker of the House, before the election, promising the teachers a 5 percent pay raise. Let's give the teachers the raise they deserve."
Delegate Doug Facemire, D-Braxton, also stood and asked for the bill to come to the floor. It did not.
The pay raise for teachers and school service personnel is estimated to cost about $67 million. The bill also includes a $2 million pay raise for State Police. All those state employees have pay scales set in state code.
The House of Delegates passed the pay raise bill on Feb. 22.
The pay raise was part of an omnibus education bill that also included charter schools, using taxpayer money to finance private schools, education savings accounts, changes to local control of property taxes that fund school systems, more flexibility to pay higher salaries for in-demand educators and changes to the role seniority plays when layoffs have to occur.
A number of items in the defeated omnibus education bill was to weaken the state teachers union.
The omnibus bill had a number of measures that would have helped education, including the 1400 Rule, which affects about 10 counties including Calhoun.
The decades old proposal would have modified the state's school funding formula to help counties whose student enrollment has dropped below 1400 enrollment. Calhoun's student enrollment is less than 1000. Those 10 rural counties are struggling financially.
That measure is dead.
Many state legislators want to eliminate 55 county school systems. likely creating about 12 school districts.