House approves teacher raise of 2% in year one

With many members saying they didn’t believe it was enough, the West Virginia House of Delegates approved a pay raise bill Tuesday for teachers, school service personnel and State Police.

The bill passed by a vote of 98 to 1. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Under the bill, teachers, school service personnel and State Police would get a 2 percent raise this year. Teachers would get additional 1 percent raises over the next three years. State Police and school personnel would also get a 1 percent raise next year.

For teachers, that would mean percentage increases of 2-1-1-1 over the next four years, and percentage increases of 2-1 for State Police and school service personnel, said Jared Hunt, communications director for the House of Delegates.

Raises for all other state employees who don’t have their salaries set under state code would be addressed in the budget bill, said Jared Hunt, communications director in the House of Delegates, Hunt said.

An amendment that called for three-year, 3 percent annual raises for teachers and school service personnel failed in the House on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Senate on Feb. 2 passed a bill that would provide 1 percent raises for teachers for five years and give a 1 percent pay raise for West Virginia State Police (uniformed and administrative) and school service personnel for two years.

On Tuesday during emotional debate on the House floor, multiple delegates said they didn’t think the pay raise is enough, and they would reluctantly vote for it. Some said it was the best thing to do, considering current finances. Others said lawmakers were just kicking the can down the road and were not solving anything.

“I don’t think it’s the best we can do,” Del. Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, said. “I don’t think it’s enough to avert a teacher strike.”

Del. Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha, chairman of the House Finance Committee, said he truly wished that lawmakers could do more, but given the financial restraints, it was the “prudent” thing to do.

One lawmaker, Del. Robert Thompson-D-Wayne, called the bill “something else.”

“I feel ashamed we can’t do more than this,” Thompson said.

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