14 August 2009

The Blame Game

The special session's failed "bonus" bill provides further evidence of differences between Gov. Joe Manchin and his fellow Democrats who control the House of Delegates, while also spurring a flurry of finger-pointing, The Associated Press and others observe.

"It showed divisions that had been hinted at during the regular session," the AP article said. "A number of education bills Manchin wanted, including changes to how the school calendar is set, were caught up in wrangling between the House and Senate and failed to pass."

But AP's Tom Breen also writes that "the apparent disorder, though, masks the fact that legislative leaders and Manchin all probably gained from the dispute in different ways. And not even the state employees caught in the middle will definitely lose out, since all sides agree the bonus could come back before the Legislature this fall."

The Charleston Gazette heard from groups who represent state workers, expressing "anger and dismay" that the measure didn't pass. They blame Manchin for concluding that the more generous House version of the "bonus" bill exceeded the scope of the special session call.

"It's a pretty universal perception that he's very arrogant and very haughty in how he deals with state employees, and this is more evidence of that," Gordon Simmons, an organizer with the state Public Employees Union UE Local 170, told the newspaper.

But both The Gazette and MetroNews note that one of these critical groups, the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, had endorsed the governor's $500-per-full-timer proposal.

"There was not an opportunity to build consensus prior to the special session," AFT-WV President Judy Hale told the latter. "So when the House wanted to, rightly so, add all state employees then they got into a mess."

MetroNews also has dueling legislative perspectives (and audio) on the failed bill. The Charleston Daily Mail also has coverage, while The Register-Herald of Beckley has dueling articles (here and here).

No comments: