CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Legislators are using more than $34 million in borrowed money to provide a pay raise for public school teachers and service personnel, Sen. Brooks McCabe, D-Kanawha, warned Wednesday.
The bill (SB391) passed the Senate on Wednesday by a 31-2 vote, with McCabe and Sen. Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, voting no.
McCabe said afterward that he voted against the bill not because he doesn't support better pay for teachers but because there is no revenue source to cover the increase.
"Clearly, we don't have the resources this year to make these salary increases," he said. "We did it, in my opinion, on borrowed money."
Given the state's current economy, McCabe said, the Legislature will have to dip into reserve funds this year, again next year, and possibly again the following year -- fiscal 2016-17 -- to balance state budgets. That would make the real impact of the pay increase closer to $70 million or $100 million, he said.
Before passing the bill Wednesday, the Senate changed a proposed 2 percent raise for teachers to an across-the-board increase of $837. The bill retains a 2 percent pay increase for service personnel.
Senate Education Chairman Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, said the amendment allows the Legislature to provide larger increases for new teachers, bringing the starting salary to $32,512, while staying within the $34.24 million cost figure.
Education Committee members had amended the bill to provide a $1,000 across-the-board increase, but that would have pushed the annual cost of the raises to close to $40 million.
Senate Finance Chairman Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, said that as it became clear the Legislature was not going to approve any tax increases this session, "we realized we couldn't afford another $5 million."