CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia House and Senate Democrats praised education and purchasing reform proposals outlined in Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's State of the State address Wednesday night, while Republican legislators criticized the governor for spending too much time talking about past accomplishments.
"It was a lot of looking back, rather than details about how we're going to fill our budget holes and solve our problems," said Minority Whip Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan.
House Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, said Tomblin's speech was short on legislative proposals.
"He didn't provide us with a roadmap," Armstead said. "There was a lot of talk about what we've done, not a lot about what we need to do."
House and Senate leaders, however, said there was a lot to like in the governor's speech.
House Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison, said he supports Tomblin's proposals to emphasize science, technology, engineering and math in West Virginia's vocational schools. Tomblin wants to put math teachers in the vo-tech schools.
"I really enjoyed the fact he's focusing on 'STEM' education, and not overlooking vo-tech schools," Miley said.
Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, praised Tomblin for proposing a 2 percent salary hike for teachers and service personnel. Teachers haven't received an across-the-board pay raise since 2011.
"If we truly want to keep our best teachers and attract new teachers in the field, we need to make sure those graduating with education degrees stay in West Virginia," Kessler said.
Tomblin's proposal to give "A through F" letter-grade ratings to schools drew mixed reviews.
Armstead and Cowles said they would support the new rating system, while Kessler and Miley said they wanted to study the governor's proposal.