MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA)is bracing for an uncertain financial future if the state legislature does not take action, according to West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee. Lee attended the PEIA Finance Board meeting in early November and urged members to begin looking for options now.
“At the PEIA Finance Board that adopted this plan in the first week of November I made a statement there that we all need to come to the table and figure this out for ther long term,” Lee said.
The PEIA Finance Board is presenting the proposal and seeking input in a series of statewide meetings. For the coming year, there would be no premium increases for state employees or retirees. Local government organizations that opt into the plan would have an increase of 9.7 percent.
But, Lee said there should be a plan to ensure stability for the long term.
“In 2025 the state has to come up with an additional $204 million, 2026 it’s $283.5 million and in 2027 the figure is $376.5 million,” Lee said.
Lee said the governor made a promise when it came to funding PEIA and he kept it. However, during these meetings there have been no state lawmakers in attendance.
“The governor will go out of office in 2025 and our fear is the legislature will not keep his commitment in those outlying years,” Lee said.
The PEIA problem has been around for years and it took a work stoppage to develop an option that state lawmakers have not addressed.
“The PEIA Task Force after the 2018 work stoppage came up with a solution for PEIA and presented it in January of 2019 to make PEIA part of the General Fund,” Lee said.
There is a degree of frustration among employees and retiree as state leaders hold record surpluses with the opportunity to implement a long term solution. For Lee, it’s an opportunity to bolster recruiting and retention that is being left on the table with no action.
“We have a huge amount of surpluses and we have to make a decision,” Lee said. “Are we going to value educators and state employees or not.”
The final PEIA public meeting was held Friday in Wheeling at the Highland Events Center.