The Latest: State senators vote in favor of 5 percent raise for - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

The Latest: State senators vote in favor of 5 percent raise for teachers

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West Virginia's Senate is voting on a 5 percent pay raise for teachers and troopers in a deal aimed at ending a nine-day walkout that has closed schools statewide.

The House already approved the deal in a vote of 99-0 on Tuesday.

Governor Jim Justice said "I believe in you and I love our kids" to the teachers after the deal was made, and plans a news conference later Tuesday.

West Virginia's teachers are among the lowest paid in the nation and haven't had a salary increase in four years. Senate Finance Chairman Craig Blair said they'll need to cut state spending by $20 million to pay for the raises by taking funds from general government services and Medicaid.

Other state workers will have to wait for a budget bill to pass before getting their 5 percent raises promised under the deal.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice says a tentative agreement has been reached to end a nine-day statewide teachers' strike by giving them the 5 percent raises he negotiated to end their walkout.

He said Tuesday that additional budget cuts by his staff will enable all state workers to also get 5 percent raises.

Senate Republicans confirmed the deal, saying it involves some reduced government.

On Twitter, Justice says: "I stood rock solid on the 5% Teacher pay raise and delivered. Not only this, but my staff and I made additional cuts which will give all State employees 5% as well. All the focus should have always been on fairness and getting the kids back in school."

---Post by Annie Moore

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WVVA) When will it end? That is the question that could be decided by six lawmakers meeting in Charleston Monday on a potential compromise. 

On the same day, teachers and service personnel flooded the Capitol in record numbers -- reaching the building's capacity for the first time since the strike began last Thursday.

Those rallying were there to put pressure on the conference committee appointed Saturday to iron out differences between the House and Senate pay raise bills for teachers, service personnel, and state workers. The two bodies are at odds over whether to provide educators with an average 5 percent raise or an average 4 percent raise. But late Monday afternoon, the lawmakers were no closer to a deal.

Del. Brent Boggs, (D) Braxton, an appointee to the committee, said House lawmakers would not come down from five percent -- the same threshold education leaders are demanding for teachers to return to school. "I can't speak for Republican members. But when I spoke with Del. Espinosa and Anderson, I believe the House was very strong, 98-1, in voting for the five percent."

Gov. Jim Justice has said the state can support a five percent raise from increased revenue estimates of $58 million from two sources -- the personal income tax and the consumer sales tax. However, the three Republican senators appointed to the committee said their revenue estimates considerably lower -- only enough to support a four percent raise.

"The three from the Senate are hardliners at four percent," explained Del. Ed Evans, (D) McDowell, 26th Dist. "On our side, we voted almost unanimously to stick to five percent." 

Conferees have three days to arrive at a resolution (Tuesday) before a unanimous vote will be needed by the committee to continue.

The end of the legislature's 60-day session is Saturday, but the session can be extended by a concurrent resolution by a two-thirds vote of members elected to each house. 

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