West Virginia Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, is up to his dirty tricks again. This time, it is at the expense of our children, their teachers and the community as a whole. In an attempt to ram through a bill (Senate Bill 451) that would tack harmful legislation on to the same bill providing for salary increases for teachers and school personnel, Senator Carmichael has manipulated the legislative process to achieve the outcome he wants. Rather than send the proposed legislation through the Senate Finance Committee, he bypassed the committee entirely to ensure that the legislation didn’t die. Bypassing the committee is not the usual path for passing legislation and it smacks of desperation.
I think we can all agree that our educators and school personnel deserve to be paid fairly, and a 5 percent increase will help get them there. Unfortunately, Carmichael is trying to use those increases to justify — among other things — vouchers and other programs to take money out of our public schools. Our teachers believe that paying them fairly should not be tied to such legislation. They will not be bought off. The unions representing our teachers have come out against SB 451 and have signaled that they are willing to walk out again in order to make sure that their students have what they need to excel.
Teamsters Local 175 stands with our teachers. We demand that Carmichael take his fingers out of his ears and stop stomping his feet. He is clearly acting out in retaliation for his loss and for being forced to give in to the teachers’ demands last year. Although he has tried to take credit for it now, Carmichael fought tooth and nail against the teachers last time. No one handed the teachers wage increases and other improvements; instead they gained the support of parents, students, labor unions, community groups and even school administrators and they struck.
I am pleased to hear that Gov. Justice will veto SB 451 if it lands on his desk. But I am disheartened at the behavior of Sen. Carmichael. The senator should understand that we did not back down last time and we will not back down this time. He needs to stop playing games with the education of our children and follow the normal legislative process. Even if that means he loses.https://www.wvgazettemail.com/opinion/gazette_opinion/op_ed_commentaries/ken-hal...