CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A longtime Kanawha County officeholder is wrapping up his last 60-day regular session in the legislature this week.
Kanawha County Senator Brooks McCabe is not running for re-election this year. He said recently he’s ready to move on to other challenges.
McCabe was asked last week on MetroNews Talkline if he’ll miss the legislature.
“Not really,” he told Talkline host Hoppy Kercheval. “I’ve worked hard. I’ve done my duty.”
The Democrat first took office in 1998 representing the 17th Senatorial district. He’s a member of the powerful Senate Finance Committee and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, as Senate President, often chose McCabe to lead the Senate on difficult issues like workers’ comp reform and the OPEB debt.
McCabe has also been known for speaking his mind. He has no qualms talking about what needs to be improved.
“We, in West Virginia, need to look to state government to get its act together. Have a balanced budget that not just looks a year ahead but have a strategy three to five years out there,” he explained.
When it comes to education, the senator said he’s not against pay raises for teachers.
“I think what we ought to say to the teachers and to the public is, ‘We want excellence! We demand excellence and we’re willing to pay for it,'” said McCabe. “That probably means a $10,000 salary increase over the next couple of years.”
He stressed the increase must come with expectations. Educators and teachers’ unions have to accept teacher locality pay and special pay for STEM programs, working at schools that serve more counties and moving away from every county having their own board of education.
He said the proposed $837 pay increase for teachers this session is systematic of the big picture.
“We’re real good at incremental change. We are scared to death of exponential change!”
McCabe also would like to see an end to the endless war of words instead of real action on important problems.
“We ought to put [those issues] on the table and say ‘Let’s get it over with. Let’s have one battle, figure it out and go forward.'”
McCabe won’t officially be out of the state Senate until the end of the year. The regular session ends Saturday at midnight.