West Virginia leaders reach deal to end teachers strike
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West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and Senate Republicans reached a tentative deal on Tuesday to end a nine-day statewide teachers' strike by giving them 5 percent raises — and adding similar raises for all state workers while they're at it.
Justice said additional budget cuts by his staff will fund the raises. Senate leaders confirmed the deal, saying it involves some reduced government.
"We have reached a deal. I stood rock solid on the 5% Teacher pay raise and delivered. Not only this, but my staff and I made additional cuts which will give all State employees 5% as well.
All the focus should have always been on fairness and getting the kids back in school," the governor said in a tweet.
The governor, union leaders and the House of Delegates had agreed last week to the 5 percent pay raise for teachers, who are among the lowest paid in the nation and haven't had a salary increase in four years. But the Senate refused to go along, approving a 4 percent increase.
Some teachers cheered in the hallways of the Capitol after the governor tweeted the news. Others waiting inside the meeting room indicated that they're wary of getting excited until House and Senate majorities approve the deal.
"We've been down this road before," West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee said.
Senate leaders said they're on board this time.
"These are deep cuts," said Sen. Craig Blair, Finance Committee chairman, said Tuesday. "This has been the fiscally responsible thing to do, in my opinion, to get us to the point we're at