In a last minute compromise, the Senate Education and Finance Committee Chairs agreed to an across the board pay raise for teachers that differs from what was promised by Governor Tomblin during his State of the State Address.
The amended version of Senate Bill 391 passed by the upper chamber today calls for an $837 across the board increase.
The bill was originally presented by the governor and authorized a two percent across the board pay increase for teachers and school service personnel.
Education Chair Senator Bob Plymale tried to up that to a $1,000 raise, but Finance Chair Senator Roman Prezioso said the state couldn’t find the additional $5 million that would have been added to the bill’s bottom line.
On the floor Wednesday, Plymale said the compromise keeps the fiscal note neutral, at its original $32 million total, but also raises the starting salary for teachers to more then $32,500, helping to attract young professionals to the field.
His amendment was accepted and the bill passed with two voting against it, Senators Mitch Carmichael and Senator Brooks McCabe.
West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee said after the vote was a good first step, but he will push for the $1,000 teacher pay raise as the bill moves over to the House.
McCabe stood at the end of the session to warn his fellow Senators about the vote. McCabe had spoken against the pay raise in a Finance Committee meeting and reiterated his concerns.
“I’m not challenging the need for salary increases, particularly for teachers,” he said. “We are grossly out of line with teacher salaries and we know we need to address that.”
“What I would hope the Senate would do is in the future when we’re posed with a salary increase, we look at it from the perspective of where is the money coming from? Do we have the money to spend? Most importantly, are we also addressing at the same time improvements in efficiency and effectiveness.”
Lee said McCabe is known for being a proponent of efficiency and he would be willing to sit down and look for better ways to distribute money if asked by lawmakers.
“But there’s not nearly as much waste as people think,” he added.