CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With the omnibus education bill now almost certainly dead, the House Finance Committee is prepared to take up a new bill exclusively on pay raises.
House Minority Leader and Harrison County Delegate Tim Miley, a sponsor on that new pay raise bill, is optimistic that the bill would have support in the House. However, he is concerned about it’s future in the Senate, particularly after Senate President Mitch Carmichael alluded to “reforming” a pay raise bill during an appearance Wednesday on MetroNews “Talkline.”
“That was one of the big objections that many of us had from the beginning, and that is, ‘Look don’t jumble everything together by putting some things in there that everyone supports while putting other things in there that only some people support but yet it creates polarization among groups,'” Miley said Wednesday on WAJR’s “Talk of the Town” with Dave Wilson and Sarah Giosi. “Instead, take each one of those issues in a separate stand alone bill and vote them up or vote them down so you can thoroughly vet and analyze what each bill does.”
Miley feels the Senate’s approach with Senate Bill 451 was disrespectful to educators and the public education system.
“The bill did have some good things to be clear, there’s no doubt about that, but it did some other things that was in essence poking a stick into the teaching community’s eye,” he said.
The biggest concerns surrounded charter schools, education savings accounts, and provisions that could have hurt the ability for teachers to organize.
“Because from what I’ve heard, they all believe that both of those concepts take assets away from our public education system,” Miley said. “And if it’s the system that’s being criticized as not performing like everyone believes it should, why would you take assets out of it? Why don’t you reassess and bring to the table the teachers who are on the front lines in the classroom who might be able to share with you what they’re seeing and what they’re experiencing in their classrooms that’s preventing them from engaging in a student-learning environment for all students in the classroom?”
Miley said there’s a unique ambiance at the Capitol Wednesday, as teachers and service personnel remain on site — concerned that Senate Bill 451 could be revived by parliamentary procedure.
“The mood is pretty upbeat by many, pretty perplexing to others,” he said.
Now, they await to see what comes of the new pay raise bill. However, many have said they’d forgo the raise to see the omnibus bill fail.
“Every teacher I talked to said, ‘Look we’re willing to forgo the raise as long as these other bad things that we don’t like die as well,'” Miley said.
Gov. Jim Justice proposed the standalone pay raise Tuesday, an attempt to fulfill a promise he made to teachers last October.
“Let me just point out, both this year and last year, the teachers were less concerned about a pay raise for themselves and more concerned about stabilizing the PEIA system because they were facing decreasing benefits along with increasing premiums,” Miley said. “If they’re not going to get a pay raise that’s fine, they just don’t want to come out losing money at the end of the year because they’re paying more in PEIA premiums and getting less in benefits. That was their biggest concern, which still hasn’t been addressed this year at all.”