Thompson approached Tomblin about the position after Gwinn said he would retire. Tomblin said he and the governor spoke several times in the last week and agreed the move was mutually beneficial.
The governor briefed Thompson about some of the priorities for the new role, Thompson said. He specifically mentioned advocating for a new nursing facility in the Beckley area and working to reduce the waiting list of about 170 people for the Clarksburg facility.
Tomblin and Thompson anticipate Gwinn will retire in mid June.
Thompson can resign at any time. Once he does, Tomblin has 10 days to call a special session of the House to select a new speaker.
Delegates who have expressed interest in becoming speaker include House Majority Leader Brent Boggs, D-Braxton; House Finance Chairman Harry Keith White, D-Mingo; House Judiciary Chairman Tim Miley, D-Harrison; House Health Chairman Don Perdue, D-Wayne; and Delegate Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha.
Gwinn's salary was $72,500 last year, but Thompson will make $95,000 in the role, said Tomblin spokeswoman Amy Shuler Goodwin.
Before the post became a cabinet position, Gwinn was paid $65,000 a year.
State law called for an increase of $5,000 per year until the pay for the position reached $95,000.
Every lawmaker is paid a base annual salary of $20,000. As speaker, Thompson also received $150 per day when the Legislature was in session and could claim $150 for every "duty day" when he is performing legislative work outside the session.
Last year Thompson was paid $62,600, according to information from the state Auditor's website.
Thompson's new salary likely will cause him to draw a significantly higher state pension when he retires.
Legislators earn a full year's service credit for each year in office, but their years of service are only one factor used to determine their benefit. The other variable is their final average salary.
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