CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — West Virginia lawmakers return to Charleston next week for the annual legislative session, and there is a lot to do.

Friday was the annual Legislative Lookahead where various lawmakers and policy advocates gather with news reporters to discuss the upcoming session and issues. Once again the normally in-person meetings had to be conducted on Zoom, because of COVID-19 concerns.

One thing Democrats and Republicans are trying to work together on this year is increased funding for K-thru-12 education and higher education. They consider it a key to economic development in West Virginia.

“Give them every opportunity to produce our best and brightest, and then give them gainful employment opportunities in the State of West Virginia,” said State Sen. Craig Blair, (R) Berkeley – Senate President.

“We’ve got to bring our people home, and we’ve got to keep our kids here. We all know that we face a myriad of challenges in West Virginia. And most of them come back to population decline,” said State Sen. Stephen Baldwin, (D) Greenbrier.

One education idea that seems to be getting bi-partisan support already, is an initiative to put a teacher’s aide in every single first and second-grade classroom in the state. The legislature is set to convene at noon on Wednesday.