By Gov. Jim Justice
The special session will resume on Monday, May 15. The goal remains the same: pass a budget that will put West Virginia on a pathway to prosperity.
But what we have to understand is there is something that is being terribly forgotten here. The political class is missing the point. I don’t want West Virginians missing the point. We need to quit being so preoccupied with a proposal and first remember how disastrous today’s condition is in our state. We must remember that we’re 50th in way too many areas. We need to remember how bad things truly are.
The budget that was sent to me last month that was passed by the House and the Senate did these things:
* Eliminated a 2% pay raise for teachers
* Cut the budgets for our State Police and Corrections
* Denied a tax break for our veterans
* Hampered our institutions of higher learning—forcing them into a position to make hurtful cuts and dramatically increase tuition
* Cut our K-12 public schools
* Reduced funding for the sick and disabled
* Provided no real funding to address the drug epidemic
* Walked away from our unions and building trades and 48,000 immediate, new jobs
* Didn’t help coal by tiering the severance tax that boosts the industry when times are bad but greatly would help the state when times are good
* Provided no funds for tourism and marketing our state
* Blocked an opportunity to have our income tax lowered
* Stopped West Virginians from driving on our toll roads for free
A budget was passed that was horrible beyond belief.
When I took office in January, I inherited a $500 million dollar budget deficit. That was the result of the same old political gimmicks that just kick the can so politicians won’t have to make a tough decision— or any decision at all. It’s the same playbook that’s left us 50th in everything. What the Legislature’s been doing for years and years just hasn’t worked— just look around.