West Virginia House panel backs more insurance funding

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — With teachers and other public workers planning a statewide walkout Thursday and Friday over pay and benefits, West Virginia’s House Finance Committee has advanced legislation that would dedicate part of annual budget surpluses to help fund their health insurance.

The bill unanimously approved Monday would dedicate 20 percent of general revenue surpluses to stabilize the Public Employees Insurance Agency.

According to legislators, the state’s year-end surpluses have ranged from about $12 million to $339 million. Half those surpluses go to West Virginia’s rainy day fund.

Teachers say have held rallies decrying low pay, small proposed increases and hikes in their insurance costs.

The House has passed legislation to transfer $29 million from the rainy day fund to freeze those insurance rates in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

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