State Republicans for second time refused giving state teachers pay raise

West Virginia Senate's Republican majority on Friday for the second time refused to vote on a bill giving state teachers a pay raise, amid the educators' state-wide strike.

For seven straight days, thousands of teachers in West Virginia have been on strike to protest their pay that’s among the lowest in the nation, rising health care costs and a previously approved two percent raise for next year after four years without any increase.

All state public schools remain closed since the strike launched. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and union leaders negotiated and finally agreed on a 5% pay raise the first year. As a result of the agreement, the strike was supposed to end and teachers would go back into the classroom.

However, the Senate’s Republicans refused the raise, claiming that the state did not have the money to pay for the proposed raise.

"We cannot continue to spend money we do not have or write checks we cannot cash," Sen. Mitch Carmichael, president of the Senate said.

Gov. Justice said he will meet with state Senate leaders to persuade them to pass the bill and end the strike.

The average annual salary of teachers who work in West Virginia is around $33,000, which is among the lowest in the nation.