Photo Credit: WTRF
We've heard a lot about the PEIA Task Force that was created as a result of the Teachers Strike earlier this year, but so far, no solutions have been proposed.
Now that the Task Force's listening tour has wrapped up WV Teachers and Public Employees wait in suspense to hear what the Task Force will do with their feedback. Most people involved have admitted that the only way to truly fix PEIA's rising premiums and falling benefits will be with some sort of dedicated revenue stream.
Obviously, this is the type of action the Task Force can't take on it's own, this is an action the Legislature must take up and pass into law. Beckley's Register Herald reports that there's a concern being expressed by teachers that the eventual solution recommended by the Task Force will be lost in the shuffle of legislative politics.
Christine Campbell made the comments Sunday, after listening to PEIA Director Ted Cheatham offer a presentation on the program to the Select Committee on PEIA, Seniors and Long Term Care.
Cheatham said that changes to PEIA require legislators to change state code.
"Just the bottom line is, when people ask what is a fix? We keep seeing the costs go up, so we pay down the reserves," said Campbell, addressing the core issue with PEIA. "Now, there's no funding source to offset a lot of these costs.
"Our members say PEIA needs to be fixed," she added. "They're saying we shouldn't be going back to the drawing board, back to the legislature, back to the governor every year for more money, so I think the long-term funding stream is what they're referencing when they said it needs to be fixed.
"The task force is probably going to make good recommendations, but those recommendations, as Ted said in this meeting, are going to require legislation," she said. "I want to see the wheel of the legislature to actually take those recommendations and provide a system that benefits the people who are serving West Virginia.
This is why it's important for all teachers, public employees, and concerned citizens to pay attention. It was easy for the Governor to appoint a task force, and for that task force to hold their listening tour. It will be easy for the task force to make a recommendation that doesn't hold any authority. It is up to all working West Virginians to make sure it's hard for the Legislature to ignore those recommendations.