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West Virginia Teachers Walk Out Over Pay, Benefits


Rachel Allinder


The West Virginia House of Delegates has approved a plan to use part of yearly budget surpluses to help fund public employee health insurance.

The bill comes as thousands of teachers, school service personnel and other public employees took to the Capitol Thursday, Feb. 22, to rally lawmakers for better pay and an overhaul of their insurance plan. Schools in all 55 of West Virginia’s counties were closed Thursday because of the work stoppage. A second day of walkouts is planned for Friday.

If passed by the Senate, the proposal would put the first 20 percent of annual budget surpluses into the Public Employees Insurance Agency “stability fund.” By law, half of surpluses are required to be deposited into the state’s rainy day fund, with the rest usually going to general government services, which include education and human services. The bill would cap surplus transfers into the fund at $75 million annually.