Pay raise on tap during session ’22 | News, Sports, Jobs

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Don’t get too excited about a proposal from Governor Jim Justice that all state employees would get a 5% pay raise on top of a one-time 2.5% bonus to offset inflation. The key word is “proposal,” and lawmakers may have more to say on the matter this month.

According to Justice, West Virginia can really sing “We’re In The Money” now, and we’re ready to use about $120 million for a pay raise that goes into effect for fiscal year 2023 (next July). Adding the one-time bonus to the total brings it to between $160 and $170 million.

Justice even led State Senate Speaker Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, and House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, to join him in saying they were committed to passing the salary increase.

“It’s time to recognize when we have resources available to us to meet needs that may have gone unmet for too long,” Hanshaw said.

Let’s talk about these available resources.

West Virginia posted an $88 million revenue surplus in November, bringing the surplus since the fiscal year began in July to $269 million. Much of those surpluses were due to record monthly tax receipts this year. There can be no assurance that this type of revenue stream will continue.

It’s also unclear whether the one-time premium would be paid for by federal CARES money.

That means lawmakers will have their work cut out to determine whether the state can afford more than a one-time pay raise that could lead to the need for departmental cuts in the not-too-distant future. Surely most government employees deserve a raise, and if that means legislators are forced to finally tackle all that fraud, waste, abuse, and bloat that only allows the royal bureaucracy to continue to serve themselves, so much the better. But unless lawmakers are prepared to make those tough decisions, Justice, Hanshaw and Blair’s effort could come to a screeching halt.

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