Live blog: Carmichael says he is proud of Senate vote on teacher pay raise bill

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Teachers from several West Virginia counties flooded into the state Capitol today to rally for a larger pay raise than the 1 percent proposed by Governor Jim Justice and to push for changes to the Public Employees Insurance Agency healthcare package.

The Senate wound up passing the bill 33-0 with one absence. It now goes to the House of Delegates.

Here’s the way the day went:

1:13 p.m. Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, says he’s proud of the debate that took place on the teacher pay raise bill.

Carmichael said maintaining the bill at 1 percent for teachers each year for five years represents fiscal responsibility.

Asked about other spending priorities, such as rolling back property taxes for industrial manufacturers, Carmichael said the Republican majority is trying to spur the economy. He said that mindset will allow for greater raises for public employees in the future.

Carmichael said there were some incidents today that concerned him. He also said he doesn’t believe teachers should have left their schools today. It caused cancellations in several school systems.

12:25 p.m. After a lengthy and impassioned floor debate, the Senate passed the bill giving teachers 1-percent pay raises each year over five years. The vote was 33-0 with one absent (Kenny Mann, the Republican education chairman from Monroe County.)

Here are the closing remarks from Senate Finance Chairman Craig Blair and then the vote itself:

Here’s what was going on outside the Senate Chamber, courtesy of Dave Mistich of WV Public Broadcasting:

Debate was fiery, with Democrats saying the state could offer larger raises if the majority would sacrifice other priorities such as rolling back the property tax on industrial manufacturers or establishing an intermediate appeals court.

Republicans said they want to keep the state’s fragile economic recovery going and that they want that to enable larger raises in coming years. Some blamed Democratic decisions in recent years for teacher salaries not being higher in the first place.

11:42 a.m. Governor Jim Justice joined “Talkline” host Hoppy Kercheval to discuss his positions on teacher pay and healthcare.

Justice had originally scheduled a 10:30 a.m. press conference today at the Capitol but had to cancel.

11:13 a.m. Teachers and public employees were introduced in the Senate chamber, even as a large crowd gathered out in the Rotunda. The crowd could be heard, even in the Chamber.

11 a.m. While the crowd noise keeps on going higher, the bells for the House and Senate floor chambers are sounding.

This is Bob Brown, an official with the American Federation of Teachers-WV:

10:44 a.m.

With a crowd already packing both Senate galleries, we were on live when Senator Richard Ojeda, D-Logan, entered the chamber and addressed the teachers.

Ojeda, who is running for Congress in the Third District, has been active on this issue — attending rallies about teacher pay and benefits and making some fiery floor speeches in the Senate.

Today he told the crowd to remain passionate but to maintain order while in the Senate.

10:28 a.m. Teachers have already filled both Senate galleries for the floor session that begins at 11 a.m.

The bill designating a 1 percent pay raise for teachers, service personnel and uniformed and administrative State Police is on a passage vote today. Will be super interesting to see how that goes.

10:06 a.m. Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval begins with a discussion of this very unique day at the state Capitol. Hoppy also provides an excellent, detailed explanation of the health insurance debate that is part of this larger issue.

9:42 a.m. Teachers swarmed the Upper Rotunda, chanting “United We Stand” — which also matches what their shirts say. Many are carrying signs with a variety of pro-teacher phrases.

The governor’s proposed 1 percent raise has gotten more attention here in the past week because lawmakers are considering a bill reflecting it. But teachers are talking more about changes to the structure of PEIA, when you stop and ask them why they’re here.

Governor Justice on Thursday put out a news release saying changes are being considered to an aspect of the plan that would affect families with two public employees. The broader issue takes into account total family income.

MORE: Governor Justice says PEIA plans for dual state incomes will be revisited

MORE: Justice wants Go365 to drop penalties

9:23 a.m. Dressed in red shirts, the teachers have been in the Upper Rotunda and also in the Governor’s Conference Room. So far, most have expressed greater dissatisfaction with the shape of the healthcare plan than with the level of the pay increase.

9:14 a.m. The day began at local schools throughout the region. Kanawha County school teachers were not walking out, but instead were “walking in.”

They gathered outside their schools, sometimes with parents and students expressing support, and then walked into their schools.

Jeff Jenkins had coverage for West Virginia MetroNews: Teachers making noise about pay, other issues

8:02 a.m.

Governor Jim Justice had planned a 10:30 a.m. news conference to discuss education issues — presumably including the pay increase and the healthcare situation. The press conference was canceled without explanation.

The governor has been at The Greenbrier, which is family owns, talking with national Republican leaders. President Donald Trump was there yesterday. There was also significant snow in that area overnight.

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