WEST VIRGINIA (WOAY) – All members of the Democratic caucus in the West Virginia House of Delegates signed onto a letter that was sent to Governor Jim Justice today, urging him to prioritize a permanent fix for PEIA funding this legislative session.
“Yesterday in the House Banking and Insurance Committee meeting, Republicans tried to run a bill that would have either taken PEIA coverage away from 20,000 spouses of our public employees or would have increased the amount they would have to pay for their policy,” said Delegate Amanda Estep-Burton (D-Kanawha). “At one point, I was one of those spouses, and if this had been enacted back then, we would not have stayed in West Virginia.”
The fight to fully fund PEIA has been an issue for West Virginia’s teachers, school service personnel and other public employees. Many teachers cited concerns about PEIA as their main reason for striking twice in the past two years, rather than low pay.
“In February 2018, Governor Justice responded to the first statewide teachers’ strike by creating the PEIA Task Force and charged us with reviewing, studying and assessing the current state of PEIA,” said Delegate Mick Bates (D-Raleigh), one of the members of the Task Force. “We gathered the information and met with stakeholders, but the required report was never written, nor was it demanded. It has now been twelve months since the Task Force met, and we have not received any updates on the status of a permanent fix for PEIA.”
Democratic members of the House Finance Committee have been concerned about the state of PEIA since January 17, 2020, when they heard the budget presentation made by the Department of Administration that included a testimony from PEIA Director Ted Cheatham.
“Last month, we heard that a supplemental appropriation of $96M for the PEIA Reserve and Rainy Day Funds will be necessary in FY2021 to prevent an increase in premiums and/or reduction in benefits for our teachers, school service personnel and other public employees,” said Delegate Jason Barrett (D-Berkeley). “We are looking at a statewide budget forecast for FY2022 that has a shortage of $170M, and we haven’t ensured that our public employees will be taken care of by fixing PEIA. Yesterday’s attempt in the House Banking and Insurance Committee to shift the burden of cost to employees in order to save the state money was a red flag for our Caucus.”
Additional members of the Democratic caucus who signed the letter are Mike Angelucci (D-Marion), Brent Boggs (D-Braxton), Nathan Brown (D-Mingo), Sammi Brown (D-Jefferson), Andrew Byrd (D-Kanawha), Jeff Campbell (D-Greenbrier), Joe Canestraro (D-Marshall), Mike Caputo (D-Marion), Phil Diserio (D-Brooke), John Doyle (D-Jefferson), Ed Evans (D-McDowell), Barbara Fleischauer (D-Monongalia), Shawn Fluharty (D-Ohio), Evan Hansen (D-Monongalia), Bill Hartman (D-Randolph), Ken Hicks (D-Wayne), Sean Hornbuckle (D-Cabell), Cindy Lavender-Bowe (D-Greenbrier), Linda Longstreth (D-Marion), Chad Lovejoy (D-Cabell), Tim Miley (D-Harrison), Rodney Miller (D-Boone), David Pethtel (D-Wetzel), Mike Pushkin (D-Kanawha), Rodney Pyles (D-Monongalia), Andrew Robinson (D-Kanawha), Ralph Rodighiero (D-Logan), Larry Rowe (D-Kanawha), Doug Skaff (D-Kanawha), Isaac Sponaugle (D-Pendleton), Margaret Staggers (D-Fayette), Randy Swartzmiller (D-Hancock), Robert Thompson (D-Wayne), Cody Thompson (D-Randolph), Tim Tomblin (D-Logan), Danielle Walker (D-Monongalia), John Williams (D-Monongalia), Lisa Zukoff (D-Marshall).
A copy of the letter is attached.02.11.2020_Letter to Governor re PEIA Task Force