CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Acting on a revised revenue forecast from Gov. Jim Justice, the House of Delegates today moved swiftly to pass a new 5-percent pay raise package for teachers, service personnel and State Police, with raises for additional state employees to be addressed in the coming days.
“We have consistently said that we want to give our teachers and state employees the best pay and benefits our resources will allow, and our actions today demonstrate that,” said House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha.
Following up on his press conference announcement yesterday, Gov. Jim Justice this afternoon submitted a revised revenue forecast for the 2019 fiscal year, increasing General Revenue Fund collections by $58 million. (Under West Virginia’s balanced budget amendment, the executive branch has total control to set the state’s revenue estimates for budget purposes.)
The revised forecast allowed lawmakers to approve a larger pay raise package for public employees than had been approved earlier this session.
Under House Bill 4145, which was approved by a 98-1 vote, teachers, service personnel and State Police will receive an average 5-percent raise effective July 1. The bill affects state employees whose salaries are directly set by code; raises for other state employees will be addressed in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget bill, which will be considered in the coming days.
Under the bill, teachers will receive a $2,020 salary increase, service personnel will receive $1,100 and State Police will receive $2,160.
The Governor had originally proposed a 3-percent raise for State Police. However, the House Finance Committee adopted an amendment giving them 5 percent as well.
“Our swift action today demonstrates our commitment to our teachers, service personnel and public employees,” said House Finance Chairman Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha. “Within just a few short hours of receiving this revised revenue estimate, we held a committee meeting, passed an amended bill, got it to the floor and approved overwhelmingly by this house. We hope this sends a message to our public employees about how seriously we’ve taken their call to action.”
In addition to the pay raise plan, Gov. Justice today signed an executive order creating the Task Force on Public Employee Insurance Agency Stability that will begin work next month to create a long-term financial stability plan for PEIA.
“With these actions, I hope our teachers and service personnel return to the classroom so our children can resume their education,” Speaker Armstead said. “We are committed to demonstrating the same dedication and urgency shown today as we work with this PEIA task force. We have heard the message of our teachers and state employees loudly and clearly, and we plan to continue delivering results.”
House Bill 4145 now goes to the Senate for further consideration.