CHARLESTON – The Senate Government Organization Committee on Thursday passed Senate Bill 617, which would return all salaried and hourly state employees to a semimonthly pay schedule.
The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has sent a letter to the Senate in support of the bill. Court Administrator Steve Canterbury appeared before the Committee on Thursday and told members that in nearly 11 years, this is only the fifth time the Court has chosen to endorse a piece of legislation.
“Some laws are too obvious to be written,” Canterbury told the Committee. “One that we have in West Virginia is, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’” Legislative Auditor Aaron Allred shared a number of concerns with the biweekly pay implementation, including the immediate $22 million unfunded liability to the Consolidated Public Retirement Board. Additionally, it would create an additional $47.1 million cost to the State throughout the next 10 years in catch-up pay for salaried employees. “It’s unfair to hourly employees,” Allred said. “They wouldn’t get a raise. Salaried employees will.”
State Auditor Glen Gainer appeared before the committee to explain the process of switching employees to a biweekly pay, and the implementation of wvOASIS. He told Committee members that the wvOASIS contract was $124.5 million, and has had and additional $20 million in change orders to address issues.
Committee Chairman Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, questioned the need for the State to continue to spend money on a system rife with problems. “In business when we make a mistake, we stop it and and we figure out how to solve it,” Blair said. “We’re not going to continue to throw money at it. This sign of support from the Supreme Court just validates our position that this poorly conceived plan to change the way our state employees are paid is wrong. I’m happy that we’ve taken the first step toward making sure our valuable, hardworking men and women take home every penny they’ve earned.”
** Video of Thursday’s Government Organization Committee is available here. **