Teachers are planning a statewide walkout this Thursday and Friday in West Virginia.
The walkout is in response to escalating tensions regarding health care and pay. Teachers and public employees are asking lawmakers to fully fund the public employees insurance agency and to increase pay.
“We’ve got the money. It’s just a matter of prioritizing,” said West Virginia Senator John Unger.
Officials say for the last four years, teachers have not received a pay increase, change they’d like to see and soon. Governor Jim Justice has proposed freezing PEIA, which would raise costs for all state employees.
“I’d like to see a three percent for the next three years to increase over time and the same for our state employees and state personnel,” said Unger.
The walkouts have support from the American Federation of Teachers in Jefferson County and the National Education Association. Other legislators expressed concern over the two day walkout.
“To close schools across state is certainly not going to be ok for our students,” said Republican Delegate Paul Espinosa.
He says while the governor and senate have expressed concerns about going beyond the five percent increase, he thinks something can be done.
“We do believe we can fund that in a responsible manner,” said Espinosa.
“Right now we have to pay our teachers, state employees, troopers, the people on the front line that keeps government going and also keeps out state moving,” said Unger.