For the fifth day West Virginia teachers and supporters protested outside the state capitol. Earlier this week Governor Justice proposed fixing their PEIA health insurance by raising the severance tax on natural gas. But he tied that promise to a controversial bill on so-called co-tenancy on natural gas and oil drilling. That met strong resistance.
“I am for raising the severance tax to pay for PEIA. What I’m not for is what is shameful about what he’s doing in terms of trying to call a special session, just to help out-of-state multi-million dollar oil and gas companies at the expense of trying to help teacher,” said Del. Joe Canestraro, (D) Marshall.
Tuesday night the Governor dropped the idea.
“But for now we’re not going to tie that to co-tenancy in anyway,” said Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia.
However, part of the idea remains popular. Many teachers want to see natural gas severance tax fund their health insurance.
“That small 2 or 3 percent increase in the gas severance tax would take care of what we need to pay for,” said Adam Culver, a Cabell County teacher.
“I might not be a big fan of the whole drilling for gas, but tax it, Tax all of it,” said Angela Lattimore Nottingham, a Cabell County teacher.
But Republicans there’s no mood for new taxes.
“If we go into a higher amount, we’re going to have to go look for new tax funding somewhere. And I don’t think new taxes is what the people want,” said Del. Chuck Romine, (R) Cabell.
“While the Governor has now backed away from his initial call for a special session on some of these issues, it is possible special sessions could still happen on other unresolved issues,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.