WVSSPA holds public meeting addressing concerns

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WDTV) -- The West Virginia School Service Personnel Association (WVSSPA) held a public meeting at Robert C. Byrd High School in Clarksburg on Jan. 29.

School personnel, teachers, and public employees filled the school's cafeteria, hoping to get some answers.

"We came here tonight to let some of our surrounding counties that we are hard at work for them," said Tim Bolick, benefits administrator for the WVSSPA.

The association announced they have proposed House Bill 4341, which calls for an increase in natural gas severance to fund the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA). It has now been introduced to the House of Delegates.

"Our estimates will generate about $62 million a year in revenue that will permanently fix and fund the PEIA," he said.

Most of those in attendance voiced that their main concern is the PEIA's Go365 program, which they say increase premiums.

"The increase in premium is a direct takeaway from a person's bring home income," said Bolick.

"It seems like every year the PEIA comes back and they need rate increases or they require more hurdles to be jumped in order to have the benefit," said Joseph Toothman, president of the Marion County WVSSPA.

While the meeting took place, Governor Jim Justice announced that after listening to numerous concerns about the PEIA's plan, he recommends that Go365 will be 100% voluntary and with no penalties.

Meanwhile, another topic they touched during the meeting was a potential teacher strike.

"A strike will be detrimental to our membership. Again, our people can't afford to be out of work," said Bolick.