The West Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill on Saturday dismantling the Department of Education and the Arts days after the longest teachers’ strike in the state’s history ended.
The bill, which now heads to the desk of Gov. Jim Justice (R), will dismantle the agency and spin off some offices to other parts of state government.
The bill would also eliminate the position of state Secretary of Education and the Arts.
Delegate Larry Rowe, D-Kanawha, warned lawmakers to vote against the bill.
“This is going to destroy arts in West Virginia,” Rowe said. “Always, always the first thing to be cut is the arts.”
The bill passed the state House by a vote of 60-36.
The Hill adds:
Teachers in West Virginia won a statewide 5 percent raise for all public employees and a commission to deal with issues with the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA) after carrying out a nine-day strike that shut down schools in all 55 state counties.
Manchin, a centrist Democrat in the red state, blasted state Republicans during the strike for “playing games” with the state’s education system.
“Sadly, just like in Washington, it looks like political gamesmanship is winning the day & preventing a bipartisan compromise led by the Governor to help our educators & public employees, fix our PEIA system & get students learning again from becoming law,” tweeted Gayle Manchin, wife of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), earlier this month.
“I urge the Senate Republican leadership to stop playing games and send our kids back to school,” he added.