Monday, February 1st, will be one-third of the way through the 2016 Legislative Session, and to date, the Republican leadership in the House of Delegates has refused to provide adequate funding to restore PEIA benefits or even present a strategy on how they plan to save thousands of West Virginians from drastic benefit cuts, increased premiums, and higher co-pays and deductibles as part of their health insurance plans. Their failure to address the looming PEIA crisis is reflective of their legislative priorities.
The House Democratic Caucus is resolute in its pledge to protect the wages of hard-working West Virginians, including any changes to PEIA that would essentially be a pay cut to thousands of our state’s teachers, law-enforcement officers, public workers and retirees.
“Republican leaders can use all the excuses that they want, but the fact remains that we are nearly one-third of the way through the legislative session and nothing has been done to protect the PEIA benefits that thousands of West Virginia workers have earned,” Minority Leader Tim Miley (D-Harrison) stated. “Actions speak louder than words, and the inaction of the Republican majority speaks volumes.
"It is embarrassing that the Republican leadership has instead chosen to spend its time working on legislation that allows people to carry concealed weapons without training or background checks and ignore the needs of its citizens."
“The Governor proposed legislation that would provide funding for PEIA on day one, other legislators have offered other proposals and the Democrats have suggested legislation that would fully fund PEIA,” Delegate Doug Reynolds (D-Cabell) stated. “I am disappointed that the only answer coming from the Republican-led House of Delegates is delay,” Reynolds added.
“Thousands of West Virginians and their families depend on PEIA, and we need to protect their benefits,” Delegate Isaac Sponaugle (D-Pendleton) stated. “It is unfair and wrong to leave these individuals in such a state of uncertainty regarding the future of their benefits,” he continued. Delegate Denise Campbell (D-Randolph) echoed his remarks. “A constituent urged me to fight to fix PEIA now, stating that ‘Rome is Burning’- and I agree. Fully funding PEIA is critical to our state’s teachers, public workers and retirees, and the Legislature must take action now,” she continued.
The House Democratic Caucus is committed to fully funding PEIA. “The first dollar of spending approved by the Legislature should begin to take steps to fully fund PEIA,” Minority Leader Miley urged. The House Democratic Caucus again extends an invitation to work in a bipartisan manner to find a complete fix that will fully restore PEIA benefits.