House asks PEIA to hold off on changes

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- After weeks of rallies and teacher walk-ins, the West Virginia House of Delegates passed a resolution Wednesday requesting the PEIA Finance Board to maintain its current financial plan, rather than moving to changes that sparked controversy.

This measure comes less than 24 hours after Governor Jim Justice held a town hall in Greenbrier County where he said and later posted on his Twitter account "Freezing PEIA where it is now will give me the chance to review the program and search for a fix."

Governor Justice said on WV MetroNews’ “Talkline,” that holding PEIA at the most recent plan is estimated to cost an additional $29M.

The governor said about $7M of that cost is already in hand. So, he said, the state will need to find an additional $22M somewhere.

Justice said that money could come from additional dollars he had originally proposed for the Department of Commerce and the Division of Tourism or it could come from some other, yet unidentified aspect of the state’s General Fund.

The latest PEIA proposal would include backing off on collapsing plans from 10 tiers to 5, as well as consideration of total family income to determine premiums.

Those changes were intended as cost savings for PEIA for the coming year.

Hundreds of teachers rallied at the state capitol last week and many have held walk-ins to speak out against the PEIA changes.

Lawmakers are also still debating the 1-percent pay increase for teachers recommended by the governor for next year.