If we give you a raise now, you may not get the retirement benefits you need later. That's what Gov. Cecil Underwood told West Virginia's teachers in his "State of the State" address on Wednesday. Swallowing that will mean accepting Underwood's premise that prosperity will come only after the state meets all the obligations undertaken by past governments.
In return for no raises, Underwood said the state would add an additional $32 million to the State Teachers Retirement System "to keep the fund solvent and protect our improving bond rating."
Granting raises without adding cash to the retirement system, he said, would return the state to the practice of doing what's politically expedient, while ignoring long-term consequences.
Keeping past promises and making sure previously passed laws work was a recurring theme of the speech. Underwood indicated that his priority would not be new programs and initiatives, but looking at what the state has in place now and improving it.