Justice Signs Pay Raise Bill for State Employees and School Officially Back on for Wednesday, March 7

By Jeff Toquinto on March 06, 2018 via Connect-Bridgeport.com

UPDATE: IV: Calls have gone out - Harrison County Schools officially in session for Wednesday, March 7.
UPDATE III: Gov. Jim Justice has officially signed the bill at roughly 3:40 p.m. for the pay raises for public employees, including educators and school service personnel. Justice is asking the state school superintendent for flexibility relating to requirements for number of days students are required to be in school. He also moved back the Promise Scholarship deadline to March 30. Previously it was March 1.
UPDATE II: The Senate, along with the House of Delegates, has unanimously passed the bill for the pay increases. It is headed to Justice for signature, almost certainly at the 3 p.m. press conference.
UPDATE: At 1:09 p.m., an email was sent from Justice's office saying he will be holding a press conference at 3 p.m. today with leaders of the House of Delegates and Senate, along with union representatives.
It’s not officially official, but Harrison County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mark Manchin is expecting school to be back in session Wednesday by the recent announcement that school employees and other state workers will be granted a 5 percent raise.
News broke this morning that a committee assigned to address the impasse regarding the raise being a 5 percent or 4 percent was near. A deal was then announced that the 5 percent raise would be provided and revenue for it would come from budget cuts as opposed to raising taxes.
“Now until I see the governor has signed this, it’s not over,” said Manchin. “That said, I’ve listened to the live stream (on MetroNews) all morning and I think that’s a formality and the fact that we’ll likely be back in school tomorrow is terrific.”
Manchin said he has already alerted key individuals to get the work out that school should be in session tomorrow. However, he said it probably wasn’t necessary.
“I think most of them knew the situation before I knew, but we have spoken to the representatives of the organizations involved and our staff will be ready,” said Manchin.
By ready, Manchin said staff will be ready to greet kids Wednesday morning pending the singing of the bill by Governor Jim Justice, a proponent of the 5 percent increase. He said cooks will be there at 5 a.m. to get things going and the custodians will report to have the buildings in tip top shape.
“Everyone is ready to back whether it’s the students, the teachers and the service personnel,” said Manchin. “We wish this didn’t have to happen, but if they didn’t walkout there’s no doubt in my mind this wouldn’t have happened.
“It worked because the unity and the solidarity was there statewide,” Manchin continued. “I didn’t think the leaders in our state were strong at all on this because the legislature was almost forced into doing it.”
Manchin singled out the employees of Harrison County’s school system in particular and those statewide in general for making it happen.
“They deserve the credit and everyone, especially the kids, will be winners for this in the short and long term,” said Manchin.
Manchin said he has faith that the one key demand in the work stoppage, fixing PEIA, will be addressed. The PEIA issue on increased deductibles, costs and hoops to maneuver through to maintain certain level of costs was the main point that educators and service personnel wanted fix. Justice has assigned a task force with stakeholders to look at finding a revenue stream to fund what will almost certainly be continuing rising costs in the healthcare system.
Editor's Note: Top photo shows Dr. Mark Manchin addressing the media after a recent BOE meeting, while Gov. Jim Justice is shown at today's bill signing in a screen shot from the live streaming of the event.

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