They came by the thousands again, and shouted loud as Day 8 of the West Virginia Teacher strike went on. Many lawmakers say it’s time to give them better pay and benefits.
“These teachers have lost almost ten-percent of their pay to inflation and 160-million dollars in additional cost to PEIA. We’ve got to get this done but I can’t imagine, that that’s going to happen, when we actually reduced their pay raise from 5-percent to 4-percent,” said State Sen. Mike Romano, (D) Harrison.
But Republican leaders in the Senate, who already approved a 2-percent pay raise, have now bumped that up to 4-percent, but say the state can’t afford any more than that.
“We realize in the Senate, that if we base our budget on revenue estimates that don’t come through, we’re going to be back here in a few months making cuts to DHHR and higher education, as we have had to in the past four years,” said State Sen. Ryan Ferns, (R) Ohio – Majority Leader.
Outside the capitol, the lines stretched way behind the building. At one point Capitol Police had to stop letting people in as it was filled to capacity. Educators came from every corner of the state.
“West Virginia can only be strong when is education system is strong.” Q: Explain what your sign says and means? “My sign means give these teacher a 5-percent raise. Come on, just get it done,” said Jennifer Taylor-Ide, a Pendleton School counselor.
And it wasn’t just West Virginians. A retired teacher from Michigan showed up in support.
“These are the people that are going to make America great. And they deserve more than they are going to get,” said Dave Hunter, a retired Michigan teacher.
This Legislative Session ends on Saturday.
“This is Day 8 of the strike and by far this is the largest crowd inside the Capitol, and the longest lines outside the Capitol. We’ll see how long it goes on,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.