BLUEFIELD, W.Va. – It took 21 minutes for Gov. Jim Justice to talk about the state’s budget problems and, most notably, how the Republican-led legislature has addressed the issue.
The governor took part in a televised town hall Monday on WVVA-TV.
Justice was responding to a question from anchor Annie Moore regarding the House of Delegate’s March 2 decision to eliminate funding for the state Women’s Commission, a move that would save the state $155,000.
“It’s frivolous,” he said. “It’s almost like spending time on deer antlers. The last go-around, it was raw milk. We have Armageddon sitting right at our doorstep, and we’ve got to do something about it.”
Republican lawmakers unveiled their budget proposal Monday, which includes the elimination of Justice’s $105 billion “Save Our State” fund, continuing 2-percent cuts passed under former Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and dropping the proposed 2-percent teacher pay increases.
Additionally, House of Delegates Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, and Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, said an additional $150 million would have to be cut from K-12 education, the Department of Health and Human Resources and higher education.
In a statement prior to the town hall, Justice said the Republican plan “only kicks the can around the block.”
“Bless their hearts,” the statement began.
At the town hall, Justice mentioned he is not against rearranging funds, noting an idea to divide the “Save Our State” fund equally over a three-year period.
“If look at it and you take away the one-time money, you’re going to flip back right next year,” he said. “You’re going to have $394 million as a shortfall next year.”
While there are still ideological differences between legislators and the governor, Justice said he feels people are warming up to his solutions for the state’s budget problems.
“People in the beginning, they just thought they’re was no way in the world we could do some of the things I proposed,” he said. “But now, people are coming to the realization that really and truly these ideas aren’t all that bad.”
Some of the proposed taxes Justice said were gaining momentum included his 6.25 percent sales tax and 4.5 percent increase of the state gas tax. Both are part of the governor’s second proposed budget.
Justice is taking part in a town hall Tuesday at the Wheeling Jesuit University’s Troy Theater in Wheeling. The forum will be hosted by WCHS-TV and WTOV-TV.
Governor Jim Justice addressed the state budget crisis during a special televised event on WVVA-TV.
Posted by WVVA News on Monday, March 13, 2017