Photo Credit:John Dahlia WV News
The PEIA listening tour wrapped up last week. Those who attended were told that they would hear something "soon," but weren't given any specifics about what this fix might be. They were given some statistics about the current state of PEIA. One of which gave Brianne Solomon, a teacher & candidate for House of Delegates, a new perspective on this issue.
Mike Hall said something that resonated with me. While describing the Tiers of what PEIA calls our “Ability to Pay,” he acknowledged that the vast majority of Public Employees are in the $20,000-$30,000 annual salary range.
I almost let that nugget slip right past me.
But a voice chided me into reality. WHAT? The majority only make HOW MUCH money per year? What’s the Federal Poverty Level (FPL)? Girl, look that up right now.
And so I did.
It turns out that based on the number of members in your family, you are weaving in and out of FPL in this salary range. I don’t say this for the people that live in that income bracket. You already know that. You also know that being slightly above the FPL isn’t anything to celebrate either. And yet, it was stated as almost an afterthought that most of PEIA’s active participants (those who work and pay premiums) are residing squarely inside of this bracket.
Why is it not only understood, but somehow acceptable that most of the people who carry the state of West Virginia on their backs weave themselves all around the nation’s FPL? One of the many speakers that night said it best, “We wake up WV, feed them, keep them safe, teach them, protect them, transport them, keep the state beautiful, and put them to bed each night. Why are we begging to be taken care of?”
Why do we have to beg for things like livable wages or decent healthcare? The money is there.