UPDATE: Justice talks PEIA, teacher pay raise in press conference

In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Governor Justice addressed a proposed teacher pay raise as well as the recommendation to keep the Public Employees Insurance Agency's current financial plan through the next year.

Justice spoke from Charleston with Senate President Mitch Carmichael and House Speaker Tim Armstead at his side.

The governor called the current financial state of West Virginia a "miracle." He also stated that he was for teachers, but said that he only recommended a 1% raise for each of the next 5 years due to financial uncertainty in the future of the state.

On Wednesday, the House of Delegates Finance Committee approved a 2% pay raise, with a 1% raise the following three years, During the press conference, Armstead stated that House believed this is possible. The amended bill is now on the House floor.

Justice also addressed the recent controversy over a proposed restructuring of the Public Employees Insurance Agency financial plan, including using the total family income to determine family premium rates, as well as reducing the number of plan tiers from 10 to 5. Justice said he opposed the proposal and felt it was right to "freeze" PEIA, keeping its current financial plan for around 17 months.

The governor said he believes the freeze will give Congress enough time to come up with a solution to "fix PEIA."

"If somebody out there has an instantaneous permanent fix to PEIA, tell me what it is and then tell me how much it's going to cost," the governor responded when asked about the freeze being a "band-aid" to get through the election year.

Justice also addressed a proposal that money for the employees could come from higher taxes on gas companies in the state. The governor said the companies would need to be in a better financial position before that would be approved.

You can view the full press conference below.

Governor Justice is scheduled to hold a press conference at 1 p.m. Thursday to give an update on the Public Employees Insurance Agency.

This year, the PEIA Finance Board proposed using the total family income to determine family premium rates, as well as reducing the number of plan tiers from 10 to 5.

Teachers, service personnel, and other state employees have met and held walk-ins, pickets and rallies in part to protest this plan.

On Wednesday, the West Virginia House of Delegates passed a resolution asking the PEIA Finance Board to maintain its current financial plan for a year.