Photo credit: Charleston Gazette-Mail file photo
Now that West Virginia teachers have won their hard-fought campaign for a pay raise, a question remains: how to pay for it in the long-term.
There has been a push by some teachers—one endorsed by Justice, who happens to be a billionaire coal heir—to raise the state’s “severance tax” on oil and natural gas extraction in order to fund the state’s Public Employee Insurance Agency (PEIA), which provides … yes, insurance to its public employees. As labor reporter Dave Jamieson documents in the Huffington Post, business taxes in West Virginia were cut significantly a decade ago with the support of former state governor—and current Democratic senator—Joe Manchin. Jamieson cites an analysis which says the cuts reduced the state’s annual revenue by $425 million.