CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The leaders of the two teacher organizations report progress following a Monday morning meeting with legislative leaders including House of Delegates Speaker Tim Armstead and Senate President Mitch Carmichael.
“We did make some progress. We still have some real sticky issues to finalize,” West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee said during an appearance Monday on MetroNews “Talkline.”
The meeting came as thousands of teachers and school service personnel packed the capitol for the third time in the last week. Monday was day three of a work stoppage in all 55 counties.
The discussions apparently centered on the make-up of a task force that will be charged with coming up with recommendations for a permanent fix for health insurance for state workers through the Public Employees Insurance Agency.
“If you’re talking about elected representatives and stakeholders (being on the task force) then we want to make sure that all of the seats at the table have a true balance and representation of the people that are directly affected,” West Virginia American Federation of Teachers President Christine Campbell said on “Talkline.”
Gov. Jim Justice tweeted Monday he would put educators on the task force.
The way to do it [fix PEIA], and I’ll do it immediately, is to appoint a task force … I’ll put educators on it, I’ll put West Virginians on it, I’ll put non-politicians on it. #wvgov
— Governor Jim Justice (@WVGovernor) February 26, 2018
Lee said the make-up of the task force is an important issue but there are others.
“It’s also the movement on the paycheck protection, to see where we go with that, the senior and the anti-education bills we’ve been seeing,” he said.
During his town hall meetings Monday, Justice also said he would like to see a special session on natural gas. He said several moves there could mean more money for PEIA. Both Campbell and Lee said any special session would have to include education issues.
“We know that time is running out in the (regular) legislative session but if you’re dedicating a special session to revenue then part of discussion has to be around education,” Campbell said.
Lee said he hoped there would be another meeting with legislative leaders before Monday was over.