CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The House of Delegates today overwhelmingly approved an increased multi-year pay raise plan for teachers, service personnel and State Police that balances the need to increase employees’ salaries with the state’s continued financial constraints.
“The members of the House recognize the continuing need to improve the pay of our teachers and public employees,” said House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha. “This plan represents a responsible path forward to provide our teachers and state employees an ongoing pay raise without promising more than our state budget can afford.
“Combined with additional funding for PEIA, the House of Delegates has committed to providing more than $70 million in additional funding this year to benefit our teachers and public employees,” Speaker Armstead said. “This is a substantial amount of new money to direct to our employees without asking our citizens for tax increases.”
The House’s amended version of Senate Bill 267, which passed on a 98-1 vote, doubles the pay raise originally proposed for teachers, school service personnel and State Police.
As passed by the Senate, the bill would have given a 1-percent pay increase to teachers each year for the next five years. Service personnel and State Police would have received 1-percent increases this year and the next.
The House modified this plan to give all employees covered by the bill a 2-percent pay raise this year. Service personnel and State Police would get an additional 1-percent raise next year, while teachers would get additional 1-percent raises for each of the next three years.
Senate Bill 267 affects those public employees whose salaries are set in state code. Funding for pay raises for other state employees whose salaries are not defined by code will be addressed in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget bill.
House Majority Leader Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan, said the 2-percent raise in the first year strikes a balance between the need to give employees a raise while also making sure they can be supported by future budgets.
“It would be irresponsible to promise our teachers and public employees more than we can deliver,” Majority Leader Cowles said. “We believe that, in combination with the PEIA changes we have already secured, this amended pay raise plan will provide the best benefit possible to our public employees, while also ensuring stability in our future budgets.”
House Finance Committee Chairman Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha, said that while the state’s budget picture has improved over the past year, revenue projections remain tight.
“We have faced tremendous financial challenges over the past four years,” Chairman Nelson said. “Now that we’ve turned a corner, we are demonstrating our priorities by thinking of our public employees first. While we would like to do more, we must be sensible and prudent. Should our budget picture continue to improve, we can look at further raises in future years. However, for right now, this is the most responsible path forward.”
The amended version of Senate Bill 267 will now go back to the Senate to approve or reject the House’s changes to the bill.