W.Va. vote on teacher pay raise sets stage for possible strike - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

W.Va. vote on teacher pay raise sets stage for possible strike


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WVVA) The ball is back in the teachers' court after the West Virginia House of Delegates approved a two percent pay raise for teachers. The legislation calls for an additional one percent raise for each of the following three years. 

The compromise was struck and approved with only one dissenting vote after lawmakers voted on a succession of amendments Monday that would have provided both a bigger and smaller raise. 

"I'd love to give them more. But I think we can revisit this and if we're doing better, we can increase it," said Del. Joe Ellington, (R) Mercer County. 

The measure still has another hurdle to clear in the Senate, where lawmakers approved a one percent raise in late January.

Sen. Richard Ojeda proposed funding a bigger raise through a severance tax on natural gas, a move he said his Republican colleagues oppose. "

Nobody wants to push my bill. Republicans have already said if it comes to the floor, they won't vote for it. And the reason is http://www.followthemoney.org/." 

Whether the two percent raise approved in the house is enough to avert a strike remains to be seen. On Sunday, county representatives around the state authorized union leaders to take action in response to both wages and health insurance benefits, including a potential strike. 

"I sure hope we're not setting up a showdown with teachers. I would have liked to have seen it higher, three percent as a starting point. But the governor is digging in his heels on this. I felt that if we didn't pass it at two percent, something he would sign, it would get vetoed and they wouldn't have a raise at all," said Del. Jeff Pack, (R) Raleigh County. 

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