CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A crowd of red-shirted teachers union members gathered this afternoon to hear Gov. Jim Justice’s remarks about an omnibus education bill.
“That education bill is dead, and I’m glad of that,” Justice said, prompting teachers’ claps.
Justice’s comments came just hours after the collapse of the education bill in the House of Delegates. The governor said he had received assurance from the House that there would not be an attempt to reconsider the motion that killed the bill.
It would have bundled the teacher pay raises that Justice promised a few months ago along with charter schools, education savings accounts, bonus and tax credits for teachers, local tax levy provisions and more.
West Virginia teachers announced a strike in opposition to the bill.
“Go back to work. Go back to work right now,” the governor said. “Let the process play out.”
Justice advocated for passage of the pay raise he promised last October, as lawmakers from his own Republican Party stood behind him.
“Today, right now, I’m calling the legislators to pass my pay raise bill, the bill I sent up, the clean bill,” Justice said. “I’m calling upon them to do that now. Do that right now. I think there’s a real opportunity to move forward here.”
He acknowledged, though, that he had not received indication from senators that they would consider the pay raise bill by itself.
“No, I have not,” he said.
On the other side, he said, “I think you’ll see the House introduce my pay raise bill, and I think you’ll see it fly through the House.”
By Tuesday afternoon, the House Finance agenda for the following day already listed the pay raise bill.
The governor also touted separate measures that would increase the number of counselors in schools and to raise the minimum number of student population per county to 1,400.
“Take up this bill separately and pass that bill,” he said.
But he said the charter schools and education savings accounts should be put aside for now.
“The education omnibus bill is dead The bill that is on the floor now is my bill, the bill I sent up,” Justice said.