The West Virginia Legislature has passed three bills that would provide additional funding for education. The measures were outlined in a controversial education omnibus approved in June.
The legislation appropriates funding for a list of provisions found within House Bill 206, the lengthy and controversial education overhaul measure pushed by the Republican-led legislature and signed by Gov. Jim Justice.
House Bill 206 most notably allows the state to open its first three charter schools ever, upon approval from county boards of education.
Senate Bill 1056 addressed the bill’s more widely accepted provisions, including scheduled teacher pay bumps, increased student support staff, assistance for counties with small enrollment and allocates money that teachers can spend on classroom supplies.
The proposal allots more than $60.7 million in additional funding than what was in the fiscal year 2020 state budget for education spending.
Senate Bill 1057 puts more than $2 million toward an attendance bonus for educators, while Senate Bill 1058 appropriates $300,000 toward a college scholarship program for those who want to become teachers.
Senate Bills 1056 and 1057 passed 88-1 with 11 members absent or not voting. Senate Bill 1058 passed 87-2.
Republican Del. Pat McGeehan voted against all three bills to amend the legislative spending, calling the items “unsustainable” in his comments before voting on SB 1056.
“We really have to watch what we’re spending down here,” McGeehan said. “These surpluses that we have seen are simply unsustainable.”
The three bills now move to Justice’s desk for approval.
Emily Allen is a Report for America corps member.