Pay for the gossip at the State Capitol
There are pre-session discussions among legislative leaders about a pay hike for teachers, service workers and state employees next year.
State employees and teachers received salary increases of 5% on average in 2018 and 2019, while school service employees received a raise of $ 1,100 in each of those two years. However, there was no increase in 2020 or 2021.
Senate Speaker Craig Blair (R, Berkeley) said the salary increases were “a high level consideration” for him. âI’ve been thinking about it for three months.
Blair isn’t ready to commit to a dollar amount, but added that “when we have surpluses like we do, we want to take care of our government employees.”
West Virginia’s tax revenue is $ 269 million above estimates for the first five months of the fiscal year, and Gov. Jim Justice believes the surplus will continue to grow.
“In all honesty, when I walked through the door, I told you I was going to take you on a rocket ride, and absolutely we get on the rocket and we have more and more good to come,” Judge the judge. said on a recent Talkline.
Justice then issued an endorsement for a salary increase. âWe’re definitely going to look at it, and from my perspective, I would be a promoter,â Justice said. Like Blair, Justice did not quote a specific amount.
Fred Albert, president of the American Federation of Teachers in West Virginia, welcomed the news. âIn order to remain competitive and to attract and retain quality teachers, service staff and public employees, it is good to hear that Governor Justice is a proponent of finding a way to offer salaries. competitive to all these essential workers. â
A report published last April by the National Education Association set the starting salary for teachers in West Virginia at $ 39,978. Who ranked 36e in the nation. However, the average teacher salary is just over $ 50,000, or 48e.
Another factor supporting a salary increase is the increase in the cost of living. The inflation rate reached 6.8% in November, the highest since June 1982. Low to moderate income earners are hit hardest by inflation because they spend a higher percentage of their earnings on household necessities. life.
However, any proposal for a salary increase may come up against competing interests. The governor of justice and Republican lawmakers are unwilling to increase state spending and pay increases are adding to the base. In addition, justice and Republicans could once again try to phase out the state income tax, which generates 45% of the state’s general revenue budget.
Yet the lack of a raise for two years, the challenges of unfilled school positions and the impact of inflation, all combined with the politics of the election year, could all translate into higher salaries. high for teachers, service workers and government employees in 2022.
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