CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It doesn’t appear the pay raise bill for teachers, school service personnel and state troopers will be on the Senate Education Committee Agenda Tuesday, according to committee chairwoman Patricia Rucker.
“I don’t think so,” Rucker, R-Jefferson, said during a Monday morning appearance on MetroNews “Talkline.” “We have plenty of time fortunately for House bills.”
Both the state Senate and House of Delegates face Wednesday crossover day deadlines. So most of their work through Wednesday will be focused on getting their own bills to the other side with 10 days left in the regular session.
The House passed the pay raise bill last Friday. It would provide an average five percent raise for education workers and troopers. Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, assigned the bill to both Rucker’s education committee and the Senate Finance Committee.
Rucker said on “Talkline” she’s still disappointed with what happened to the education reform bill, SB 451, which died in the House of Delegates last week. The death ended the two-day education workers strike. She heavily criticized the leaders of the two teachers unions in a news release Monday following her “Talkline” interview. She said both West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee and West Virginia American Federation of Teachers President Fred Albert “doubled down” on their opposition to local control, competitive teacher pay based on expanded criteria and addressing teacher shortages in critical needs areas in an interview on “Talkline” last Wednesday.
Senate Education Chair Patricia Rucker (R-Jefferson) joins @HoppyKercheval to discuss the possibility of a clean teacher pay raise bill in the @wvsenate now that the omnibus education bill has failed. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIAoe1 pic.twitter.com/jiguQkgbuI
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) February 25, 2019
Rucker called the opposition not surprising but disappointing.
“What is shocking to me is the unwillingness to discuss it. That is a failure of leadership,” Rucker said in the Monday news release.
During her interview on “Talkline” Monday, she’s always supported paying teachers more but in the Senate it’s been in the context of addressing all of the needs in public education.
“Our teachers are leaving for much higher salaries over the border so it’s really important for me that we be able to raise their salaries so they can compete, but that includes giving the flexibility and pay more in areas of critical need and in areas like the border counties,” she said.
When questioned on “Talkline” Monday if she would try to add some of the education reform provisions to the pay raise bill, Rucker said it was clear the House would not accept any language concerning charter schools or education savings accounts. She was unsure if there would be an opportunity to address any of the other provisions.
“I don’t know if there’s any ability to bring any of that back. I certainly feel those are all things that we should have done and obviously now we gotta see if there is any way to help do what we need to do,” Rucker said.
Rucker said she does plan to consider House bills assigned to her committee according to when they arrived, giving priority to those that have been there the longest amount of time.