More debate over proposed PEIA fix and WV teacher pay

CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS) - Governor Jim Justice held a news conference on his latest plan to fix pay and benefits for many state employees.

This after a huge protest by teachers at the capitol last Friday. The Governor is calling for a freeze on employee increases to PEIA, their state health insurance plan, even though that's expensive.

At the same time the Senate has voted to increase teacher pay at one-percent the first year, but the House is now recommending two-percent.

"And let's do what the executive branch can do, and what I did yesterday. Freeze PEIA; freeze it. It's going to cost $29 million dollars more money," said Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia.

But the Governor bristled when Democrats called his plan a political stunt.

"And freezing PEIA for one year is just a band-aid to try to get past the election for the people who are in charge which is the Republican Party," said State Sen. Mike Romano, (D) Harrison.

"The truth is just this. A band aid, a $29 million band aid, is an expensive band-aid," said Governor Justice.

State union leaders say their members are worried, and want a permanent fix to their health insurance,

"Looking for a long term solution, so that every year we're not seeing the insured panicked," said Elaine Harris, of the Communication Workers of America.

As for the two proposals on raising teachers pay, lawmakers think they can work out their differences.

"Yes form the get-go, I have actually advocated for giving the teachers competitive wages. And that is something that I support," said State Sen. Patricia Rucker, (R) Jefferson.

"And this is Day-30 of the Legislative Session. We're halfway there, but there's still a lot to get done, including that PEIA fix," said Mark Curtis, 59 News Chief Political Reporter.

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