CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — It was a busy day for the West Virginia Legislature on Monday. It brought discussion of the corrections staffing crisis and the state’s car tax rebate.

The state of West Virginia says its prisons and jails have more than 1,000 vacancies, 700 of which are for correctional officers. The National Guard has been called in to help, but that is not a permanent solution.

Officials say the state is losing correctional officers and staff to neighboring states, which in most cases pay a lot more money. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say it’s time to raise salaries in the Mountain State.

“Changing the pay scale for correctional officers. But I think it’s important that we include the support staff in these jails and prisons, who often are acting like correctional officers themselves,” said Del. Mike Pushkin, (D) Kanawha.

“Well, we are underpaid, otherwise we wouldn’t be short of staff. If the benefits were there and everything to take care of them,” said Del. Mickey Petitto, (R) Harrison.

Lawmakers are also working on a bill to correct a glitch in the state’s new car tax rebate.
Right now, people who pay their entire vehicle property tax this year will only get half-of-that back in next year’s rebate. A bill before the legislature would correct the rebate to 100% of their taxes paid.

Now the effort to raise corrections pay involves three separate, but related bills. They have been cleared by the finance committee and await a full house vote.