House and Senate at Odds Over 0.1% of the Budget in Pay Raise Fight
Over the weekend, the governor's proposal to end the teacher's strike in West Virginia hit a snag, as the Senate cut the proposed teacher and service personnel pay raise from five percent, as passed by the House, to four percent. The House refused to accept the changes and now we wait for the outcome of the conference committee to work out the difference.
But how much is the difference? When the governor announced last week a deal had been made, the plan was a five percent raise for teachers and service personnel, with a three percent raise for all other public employees. The House nearly unanimously passed the five percent raise to teachers and service personnel, while the three percent raise for all other public employees would have to come through budget bill, which has not been brought up. Altogether, a five percent raise for teachers and service personnel, and a three percent raise for all other employees, would cost $84,244,640.
The Senate, citing a lack of confidence in the Governor's revised revenue estimate, reduced the five percent raise for teachers and service personnel to four percent. But while using the uncertainty of the revenue estimate as an excuse to offer a lower pay raise, Senator Boso, who offered the amendment to cut the pay raise from four percent to five percent, also stated that the savings from the reduced raise would go to giving all state employees a four percent pay raise. A four percent pay raise for all state employees including teachers and service personnel, would cost $78,380,000.
So considering both the five percent and four percent pay raises for teachers and service personnel that are in the respective versions of the House and Senate bill, as well as the proposed three percent and four percent raises for other state employees, the difference in costs between the House and Senate plans is only $5,864,640. That is only 0.13 percent of the general revenue fund.
While the teachers and union representatives have signaled that passing the five percent raise would end the strike, the Senate has prolonged the strike over what amounts to just over one-tenth of one percent of the budget.