13 August 2009

Impasse Dooms "Bonus" for W.Va. Workers

Gov. Joe Manchin had initially proposed his $500 bonus-like payment to full-time state employees for the 2010 regular legislative session. He then decided to include it in this week's special session for extending jobless benefits.

The result: "a legislative tug-of-war over whether to give $500 payments to all state workers, some state workers or all state workers and retirees," The Associated Press reports.

"The version favored by Manchin and the Senate would have used surplus funds from the previous fiscal year to pay $500 one-time bonuses to active state employees at a total cost of roughly $34.7 million," AP's Tom Breen explains. "The House, though, amended the bill to include an additional $11.1 million for state employees in higher education and county jobs not covered under the state school aid formula," as well as "$13.3 million for one-time bonus payments of $266 for state retirees."

In the end, "Manchin and the Senate balked at these additions, saying they overstepped the bounds of the special session call, and therefore also violated the state constitution," AP reported. "After refusing to concur with the House amendments, the Senate adjourned instead of appointing a committee to try and reach a compromise."

AP also covered Manchin's response to the outcome, as did The Register-Herald of Beckley, MetroNews, Public Broadcasting (with audio), the Charleston Daily Mail and The Charleston Gazette.

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