In an extremely brief budget presentation Monday, state Auditor J.B. McCuskey told the Senate Finance Committee he would return $1.5 million of unspent appropriations to the state’s general revenue fund, and said he wants to give his staff pay raises independent of the governor’s proposed 1 percent across-the-board hike.
Delegate Pat McGeehan, a member of the Liberty Caucus in the state Legislature, is proposing a resolution that could lead to two-thirds votes in both legislative chambers as a requirement to raises taxes or fees.
House Bill 4001 would place work requirements on recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program beginning in October. Someone would be able to seek a volunteer opportunity if the state Department of Health and Human Resources deems there are enough opportunities.
Jim Johnson, director of the state’s new Office of Drug Control Policy, was hired to help lead the effort to reduce drug overdose deaths. West Virginia has the highest fatal overdose rate in the nation.
Johnson’s sudden departure comes just days after the release of a preliminary report on ways to combat the opioid epidemic. Johnson had served on a panel of experts that drew up the report. A final report is expected before the end of the month.
Gov. Jim Justice, in his State of the State address last week, requested a “1 percent” across-the-board pay increase for West Virginia teachers in this year’s legislative session, with further 1 percent increases in each of the next four years.
“That’s it?” has essentially been the response of teachers, at least as indicated by a rally Monday in the state Capitol. About 200 people attended the West Virginia Education Association union rally, including teachers and lawmakers.
“It’s a little scary to think the executive of this state, the governor, can have a cabinet position and appoint a secretary and the education committee in the House can just do away with it,” Manchin said Wednesday, after the House Education Committee voted to do just that.
Under the proposal, 70 percent of funding would be based on credit hours taken, with higher-level courses, and STEM courses (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) weighted more heavily. Total degrees awarded would account for 25 percent of funding, with student success — measured by several factors, including graduation and retention rates — accounting for 5 percent of the funding formula.