McCabe, whose term is up this year and who is not seeking re-election, argued that it is bad public policy to give raises without a specific source of revenue or cost-savings through efficiencies to offset the cost.
"We just said, 'We're going to pay you now and address these issues later,'" he said.
McCabe contrasted the teacher pay bill with legislation (SB486) that passed the Senate 33-0 Wednesday to increase salaries for West Virginia State Police forensic lab technicians and analysts by 30 percent.
While those increases will cost about $700,000 a year, McCabe said, it should reduce a backlog of inmates in regional jails whose trials are delayed while awaiting results of forensic testing of evidence. That could save the state as much as $5 million a year in jail costs, he said, so the salary increase should more than pay for itself.
McCabe also noted that occasional small pay adjustments will not make state teachers' salaries competitive nationally.
"It's not going to take $34 million, but hundreds of millions to bring them to the middle of the salary scale," he said.
McCabe said the Legislature needs to work with educators to redesign the public schools system "so we can live within our means."
Both pay increase bills now go to the House of Delegates. The legislative session ends March 8.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.