Low salaries not fault of GOP
West Virginia just completed a bruising legislative session. The most noticeable challenge faced by all three government branches this year was the proposed pay raise for teachers and public employees. Throughout all the commotion and vitriol surrounding the pay raise, our elected representatives and senators performed in an outstanding manner.
The Democratic Party controlled West Virginia’s Legislature from the early 1930s until 2015. Yet, decade after decade, teachers and public servants were paid according to one of the lowest pay scales in the nation.
Why? Three years ago, Republicans gained control of the state Legislature and worked to make the state fiscally responsible by reducing spending. Current critics, however, ignore West Virginia’s political history and call for a return to Democratic control. They tar state Sens. Patricia Rucker (Jefferson County) and Craig Blair (Berkeley County) as haters of children, schools and public employees.
That’s ridiculous. Both Patricia Rucker – a former public school teacher – and Craig Blair care deeply about children, schools and public employees. They also care about making West Virginia fiscally sound. During the pay negotiations, several plans were presented, but were rejected by teachers and unions. The first was an annual 1 percent raise over five years; next, a 2 percent raise followed by two more years of 1 percent was presented, but rejected. Finally, the Senate affirmed a 5 percent pay raise if it could be attained without raising taxes. While critics were willing to raise taxes, legislators like Sens. Rucker and Blair forced the executive branch to find a way to increase state employee pay without increasing taxes. West Virginians appreciate keeping more money in their households.
West Virginia needs Sens. Rucker and Blair, and others who adhere to fiscally sound policies.
The Republican Party values teachers and public servants. We also value fiscal responsibility. Critics of Sens. Rucker and Blair would do well to remember that Democrats controlled West Virginia public employee pay for over 80 years, yet Republicans are repairing that pay disparity in three years. Elections matter.
Chair, Jefferson County Republican Executive Committee