CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Many public employees in West Virginia are facing an increase in their health insurance and they want it stopped.

There has been no premium increase since 2018, but this year may break that streak.

It was a huge issue when teachers went on strike twice during the late-2010s.

Aside from wanting more pay, teachers and other public employees want total funding for their PEIA health insurance plan.

In 2023, the legislature is thinking of increasing an employee’s share of health premiums, from 17% to 20%, because many employees are also set to get a $2,300 pay raise. Critics don’t like it, but supporters say it is necessary.

“We know with the medical costs escalating all the time, we can’t forevermore, forevermore just turn our back and say, ‘well forevermore we’re going to be able to stay at a certain level’.” Gov. Jim Justice (R) West Virginia said.

“I would be against any proposal that raises premiums on our teachers and our public employees,” Del. Mike Pushkin (D) Kanawha and WV State Party Chair said. “And who I am most concerned about are retirees. They haven’t had a cost of living adjustment in quite some time.”

Gov. Justice and Republican lawmakers say they are also working to cut state personal income taxes by 21% in 2023, and also issue rebates on vehicle property taxes.

The bill has already passed the Senate but is currently being debated in the House.

If it’s approved there, it will go on to the governor. They say both will more than offset a PEIA rate hike.