CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Count new West Virginia House Speaker Roger Hanshaw (R-Clay, 33) among the supporters of Governor Jim Justice’s proposal to raise pay for teachers and state workers by five percent in the next fiscal year.
“I do personally support the proposal and would vote for it,” Speaker Hanshaw said on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
A week ago, Governor Jim Justice announced his plans to propose the additional five percent pay raise for teachers and state workers.
If approved, it would be the second consecutive year for a five percent hike for those employees.
Additionally, Justice said he planned to dedicate $100 million in state surplus money to the Public Employees Insurance Agency.
“Personally, I’m supportive of doing as much as we can as quickly as we can to bring our public school teachers up to a greater parity with their peers in other states and do more to make that profession as attractive as we can,” Speaker Hanshaw said.
However, he noted, he could not yet speak for the entire House Republican caucus.
“I can certainly tell you we’ll take it seriously,” said Hanshaw who was named House Speaker in August to replace former Speaker Tim Armstead who was appointed to the West Virginia Supreme Court and is a court candidate in the November General Election.
Following Governor Justice’s announcement, Senate President Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson, 04) said he could “guarantee” passage of the pay raise package would happen during the 2018 Regular Legislative Session if Republicans maintain control of the state Senate.
Carmichael called it “a fantastic proposal.”
“Most reasonable people will look at this and say this is validation of what the Republicans said from the beginning, that they would always invest in education as the money came available,” Carmichael said.
“The changes they made to the business climate generated those new revenue streams.”
For the first three months of the fiscal year, West Virginia’s tax collections have exceeded estimates by more than $119 million.
Critics have questioned the timing of the proposal announcements which came just weeks ahead of the Nov. 6 general election.
“The timing of the announcement, to me, seemed to coincide with the timing of the announcement of the first quarter surplus numbers,” Hanshaw said.
Hoppy Kercheval then asked, “No politics involved?”
“That’s a question for the Governor,” was the response from Hanshaw.
Unlike Republicans in the state Senate who who were Charleston last week for state Supreme Court Justice Beth Walker’s impeachment trial in which she was acquitted, members of the state House of Delegates have not been together in Charleston since Governor Justice’s announcement.
“I’ve not had an opportunity to gauge really reaction from any of the members of the House but myself,” Speaker Hanshaw said.