CHARLESTON – Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, today joined Governor Jim Justice and other leaders from the House and Senate to announce a $100 million funding commitment to find a long-term solution for the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA) and to provide an additional 5 percent pay raise for teachers and state employees during the 2019 legislative session.
“I’m excited to join Governor Justice and my legislative colleagues today to share our plan to stabilize PEIA and further support one of West Virginia’s most valuable resources – our educators – as we move into 2019,” Senate President Carmichael said. “Today’s announcement underscores our unwavering commitment to support the thousands of devoted educators across our state who work tirelessly to prepare West Virginia students for college and career success in today’s 21st century economy. By supporting our teachers, we are supporting our students and fostering a stronger West Virginia economic future for generations to come.”
Tuesday’s announcement follows numerous months of discussions around potential solutions that would guarantee the long-term financial health of PEIA while ensuring co-pays, out-of-pocket healthcare expenses, and prescription drug costs do not increase for state employees. During the 2018 regular session, the Legislature allocated an additional $30 million into PEIA to keep the plan for teachers and public employees at its current year premium and coverage levels.
“It is critical that our state continues to increase investment in our education system in a fiscally responsible manner to give teachers a reason to come to West Virginia and to stay,” Senate President Carmichael said. “By supporting our educators, we get closer to our goal of making sure every student across the state can have a great teacher, leader, and mentor in front of them every day. Our students deserve no less.”
In addition to the $30 million allocated toward PEIA, the Legislature also passed a 5-percent raise for teachers and school service personnel. In total, the pay raise and additional funding for health care exceeds $100 million annually and was accomplished without raising taxes.
“Thanks to pro-growth policies that have been implemented by the Legislature in recent years, our economy continues to expand, while tax revenue continues to increase, leading to historic budget surpluses,” Senate President Carmichael said. “In turn, we are able to use that growth to deliver our teachers the pay increases they need and deserve.”
Earlier this week, Governor Justice announced that the first-quarter surplus for Fiscal Year 2019 was $119.9 million — the highest first-quarter surplus in West Virginia’s history. West Virginia ended Fiscal Year 2018 with a $28.7 million surplus, following the state’s highest-ever general revenue collections.