Speaker Armstead Statement on Governor's Proposal to Reduce PEIA Premiums for Teachers and State Employees
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, today issued the following statement in response to Gov. Jim Justice’s announcement that he’s asked the state Public Employee’s Insurance Agency Finance Board to begin planning public hearings on reforms that would reduce PEIA premiums for families that have dual state incomes, including teachers.
“We applaud the Governor for this announcement and welcome this modification of the proposed changes to the PEIA program,” Speaker Armstead said. “We have heard loudly and clearly from our teachers and state employees that they are worried about the effects of these proposed PEIA changes, and have been actively exploring ways to offset costs.
“The House Republican caucus has met with PEIA Director Ted Cheatham and expressed the concerns we’re hearing from our constituents about the plan,” Speaker Armstead said. “A particular concern has been how the changes will affect families where both spouses are public employees, so we’re relieved the Governor and PEIA Finance Board have recognized this and are taking action.
“PEIA premiums have been structured based on an employee’s ability to pay, and it is my understanding that the PEIA Finance Board’s overall goal of including total family income was to make this determination more fair,” Speaker Armstead said.
Under the existing premium system that’s been used for years, a state employee who makes $30,000 a year but is married to someone working in the private sector who makes $400,000 still pays the same in family insurance costs as a teacher making $30,000 a year but whose spouse only makes $24,000.
“We have been concerned that the change to total family income may have some unintended consequences for families that have both spouses working for the state,” Speaker Armstead said. “That’s why I’m glad that the PEIA Finance Board will reconsider this system.
“I know there is a great deal of concern out there right now with regard to PEIA and teacher and state employee salaries,” Speaker Armstead said. “I want our teachers and state employees to know that their voices have been heard and we are working diligently to find solutions. Our state budget picture is improving, but remains tight. We are currently evaluating a broad range of options to give our teachers, state employees and school service personnel pay and benefit improvements that give them the best bang for the buck within the limited resources we have in our state budget.”