The highly anticipated final approval of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s education bill will have to wait.
The Senate decided to delay their decision for a few hours Friday, recessing until 2 p.m. The bill is expected to face some opposition–six senators have voted against the measure during the committee process–but pass.
Almost immediately after it’s introduction stakeholders began both trumpeting and attacking the measure (Senate Bill 359).
Stakeholder argued the merits of the bill extensively before the Senate Education Committee. For two weeks, Tomblin’s staff, teachers’ unions, administrators from the Department of Education and the Board of Education debated hiring practices, school calendar and other aspects of the measure.
At least in the public eye, that did not lead to extension discussion of the legislation by Senators. However, Senate Education Committee chairman Bob Plymale, D-Wayne, and others said constant closed-door meeting led to the heavily revised bill introduced and passed Tuesday. Majority Leader John Unger, D-Berkelely, was joined by fellow democrats Bob Beach of Monongalia County, Truman Chafin of Mingo County and Dan Hall of Wyoming County in voting against the measure.
There was even less discussion during Thursday’s Senate Finance Committee, the next stop for the legislation. Senators briefly reviewed the financial ramifications of passing the measure: it could save the state close to $600,000 the first year after it passes and more than $2 million in the second year.
The majority of Thursday’s meeting consisted of Unger questioning board President Wade Linger about his staffing decisions. Unger and Chafin again opposed the bill, and were joined by fellow finance committee members Doug Facemire, D-Braxton, and Jack Yost, D-Brooke.
If the bill is approved today it should go before the House floor Monday. It will likely require approval of the education and finance committees before the full House and vote on the legislation.
Teachers unions have said they are already gearing up their efforts to try and affect the changes they want during the bill’s time in the House.