The Dominion Post  

Teachers, state employees to get 5 percent raise

Created on:   Tue, Mar 6, 2018   11:10 AM

Last modified:   Tue, Mar 6, 2018   2:30 PM

The Dominion Post

CHARLESTON — The House of Delegates received and unanimously approved the conference committee report on HB 4145, the teacher pay raise bill.

After a few brief speeches, delegates voted 99-0 to pass it again. The teachers and service personnel filling all three galleries rose to their feet, clapped and cheered.

The House sent the bill to the Senate to concur. The governor announced a 3 p.m. press conference to celebrate passage.

The conference committee announced an agreement the morning of March 6 after all-night negotiations.

The Senate receded from its position on a 4 percent raise for teachers, service personnel and State Police and agreed to the House position on 5 percent for all.

In return, the Senate got its way on its desire to provide an equitable raise for other state employees via the budget bill, and they will also see a 5 percent hike, instead of the 3 percent in the House bill and the 4 percent in the Senate bill.

The Senate also got its way in choosing not to count the governor’s $58 million revenue projection enhancement announced last week, which Senate Republicans have repeated termed “suspect.”

Instead of counting that money, committee co-chair Sen. Ryan Ferns and Senate Finance chair Craig Blair said, the raises will be paid for with cuts already included in the Senate budget plus another $20 million in cuts to such things as General Services for building repairs and to Medicaid. If the governor’s revenue estimates pan out, they said, those dollars can be restored through supplemental appropriations at a later date.

Due to the cuts, Ferns and Blair said, such economic development spending plans, such as increases to Tourism and Commerce and the free community and technical college tuition bill, plus such things as the intermediate appeals court are off the table.

In order to end the walkout, in its ninth day, and get teachers back to school, both houses plan to suspend their joint rule that a conference committee report sit for 24 hours so that they can approve the report and pass the bill in a single day.

Teacher and service personnel union leaders declined to commit to an end to the walkout until the Legislature completed its action on the bill. But the hallways jammed with teachers and service personnel echoed with cheers when the deal was announced.