After a three day strike for teachers across the state, Governor Jim Justice met for a town hall at University High School.
680 public schools in the state’s 55 counties have been closed throughout this time.
“So I think that it’s unfortunate that they’re out of school and I’m not with my students as well, but I’m glad I get to be with my children, and I get to show them a different side of education today, and I think they are learning a lot,” said Kevin Colistra, teacher at Morgantown High School.
A main concern is employees say a 1% pay raise just isn’t enough. Governor Justice said in order to administer a PEIA raise, it would take hundreds of millions of dollars. He spoke on behalf of the legislators:
“As far as a pay raise, they believe it is not financially, and I too, not financially the thing to do today, to raise you more in the wake of, they don’t truly know, nor do I know, that we are for sure out of the woods,” said Justice.
Justice asked the crowd to offer their opinions on where this money will come from.
Some crowd members suggested legalizing marijuana throughout the state, as well as severances on oil and gas, which Justice agrees with.
“Did I not last year, at the state of the state, say that the severance tax on gas and coal should be tiered and it should go up and down, with the prices, and if we would have done that, we would have been clear sailing like you can’t believe,” said Justice.
Justice said he will be meeting with his staff within the next seven to ten days to determine the next steps to be taken, which may involve meeting with gas and oil companies.
He concluded the meeting by acknowledging the teachers’ freedom of speech but said there may be consequences. He advised the return of work on Tuesday or necessary actions may be taken which could include loss of job or potential jail time.