WV Budget Passes; Legislative Session Ends

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The Arkansas Senate on Friday voted to approve an appropriation for the state treasurer's office that was stripped of a controversial provision to extend tax benefits to families that withdraw funds from their state-run 529 college-savings plans for expenses at kindergarten-12th grade private, religious or public schools. "It does put us on a path to sustainability for our pensions and provides a good pension for those who are now retired and those in the system and creates a new hybrid cash-balance plan, much like we did in Senate Bill 2 in 2013, for future teachers", Thayer said.

"We've got the votes", said Stivers emphatically Thursday. This is what we have.

The House then stripped the policy language by a voice vote, sending the clean bill back to the Joint Budget Committee.

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"What we finally made a decision to do was basically split the baby", Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Bruce Burns, R-Sheridan, told his Senate colleagues.

A spokesman for Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Thursday that lawmakers were expected to gather signatures in support of 529-related legislation in order to have it placed on a call for the special session. But Thursday was the first organized protest at public schools in front of parents and students.

The 5 percent raises approved to end a nine-day strike by teachers and school service personnel are based on pay averages and apply to personnel paid from the state funds.

The decision capped a wild day in the state Capitol as approximately 200 teachers, who arrived one hour before the session began, staged a rally - their chants could be heard throughout the day in the Senate chamber.

Some teachers said they feel as if the rug has been pulled from under them. I think they were feeling the pressure.

"You got a lot of people in the state of Kentucky that this is going to effect and we hope that we're making a difference out here today", said Daniels.

State lawmakers have taken painful steps to ensure the system is fully funded this year.

Republican Sen. Joe Bowen sponsored the bill saying it would save the state $3.2 billion over the next 20 years. In January, the Legislative Council authorized Milligan to create this new position with a maximum authorized salary of $97,400 a year.

West Virginia's House and Senate have unanimously approved a budget for the state government with $4.38 billion in general revenues for the fiscal year starting July 1, including raises for teachers, prison guards and many other state workers. The bill also would require physicians or their staff members to check with a statewide database before prescribing or dispensing drugs.

"Teachers and other public employees being treated this way is simply wrong", said Floyd County Education Association President Angela Coleman.

"We've really spent over a week trying to bring the two sides together", said Sen.