CHARLESTON -- It's up to House-Senate conference committee to iron out differences between the House and the Senate on a pay raise bill for teachers, service personnel and State Police Doors to schools in all 55 counties will be closed again Monday, the eighth day of the statewide walkout.
The committee did not meet Sunday and as of 7:30 p.m., it had not scheduled a meeting time for Monday.
The Senate passed a reduced pay raise for teachers, service personnel and State Police, but not until discovering it had first voted on the wrong version of the bill. Sen. Greg Boso, R-Nicholas, proposed an amendment that lowered the total raise from 5 percent to 4 percent, with the intention of dedicating 4 percent to state employees too, which would have to be managed under the budget and not the bill itself.
Because the House would not concur with the change the Senate made to the bill the House passed Thursday, three members of each body were appointed to a conference committee which will try to hammer out and agreement.
Senate members are Majority Leader Ryan Ferns, R-Ohio; Senate Finance Chair Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, and Robert Plymale, D-Wayne. House members are delegates Bill Anderson, R-Wood; Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson; and Brent Boggs, D-Braxton.
West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee, also speaking on behalf of the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia and the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association, said Saturday that the walkout will continue as long as a 5 percent pay raise bill is not passed.
“At this point, all three organizations announce we are out indefinitely,” Lee said Saturday. “We do not accept the 4 percent.”
Schools in all 55 counties have been closed since Feb. 22 as teachers and others have rallied for higher pay and a long-term fix for the Public Employees Insurance Agency.
In a Friday meeting, schools superintendents told Senate President Mitch Carmichael and Gov. Jim Justice that if the 5 percent pay raise bill was not passed over the weekend, then schools would be closed on Monday. Justice said he felt the bill should pass Saturday, warning “it has to happen” or “we spiral off into no-man's land.”
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