Senate may look to equalize pay raise proposal

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Some members of the state Senate may be leaning toward proposing a change in the state worker pay raise bill passed by the House of Delegates earlier this week.

The current bill would provide a five percent pay raise for teachers, school service personnel and state troopers with three percent planned for all other state workers to be taken care of in the state budget. Senate Majority Leader Ryan Ferns (R-Ohio) said during an appearance Friday morning on MetroNews “Talkline” the inequity has raised some eyebrows.

Sen. Ryan Ferns (R-Ohio)

“That is something that gives a lot of our caucus, it may not just be the Republican Caucus only, it may be the Democrats as well, it gives them a lot of heartburn that there were a lot group of employees left out of this deal to a large extent,” Ferns said.

Ferns was not specific during the “Talkline” interview about what a new proposal might include. He said it would take a few days to change the budget bill if something is approved.

“If the Republican leadership in the Senate decides, ‘Hey, look, we want to make this fair across-the-board for all public employees. We want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to sure up PEIA and allocate those dollars most wisely,’ and we relay that to the staff they have to go to work on that and it’s a process that will take a day or more,” Ferns said.

Education workers showed up in strong numbers again at the capitol Friday morning chanting, “We made a deal, pass that bill,” and “We’re not leaving!” Friday marked the seventh day of the education workers strike.

Craig Blair

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Craig Blair (R-Berkeley) told MetroNews affiliate WEPM in Martinsburg Friday morning the continued protests were not going to impact his deliberations on the pay raise bill and the budget.

“I am not going to be bullied into making a rash decision,” Blair said. “They may be able to do that in the House of Delegates–it’s not going to happen that way in the Senate.”

Blair said the pay raise bill is being examined and seeing if can be perfected.

“That’s our job. We’re the upper chamber. We’re the ones are the ones that are supposed to take the time to be deliberative,” Blair said.

The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to meet at 3:30 p.m. Friday.

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