CHARLESTON, W.Va. — House of Delegates Speaker Tim Armstead says Governor Jim Justice is playing in a “high stakes game of poker” if he vetoes the state budget passed by lawmakers.
During an appearance Thursday on MetroNews “Talkline,” Armstead said the governor doesn’t have the support in the legislature for his tax increase plans.
Justice will make a budget announcement Thursday afternoon at the capitol. Armstead said he expects theatrics.
“He’s just trying to create fear and it’s fear that doesn’t have any basis in fact,” he said.
The lower rotunda was set up Thursday with a table and seat for Justice in front of a semi-circle of tables with a few dozen chairs. House Minority Leader Tim Miley said those who would be impacted by the passed budget’s $110 million in cuts will be there.
“I expect a panel discussion and presentation of people whose institutions and services are going to be radically altered and affected if this budget were to become law. I think they are going to make their case in the court of public opinion,” Miley said.
Armstead said the fear game is unnecessary.
“Anybody who has looked at this budget and knows what’s in it knows that the theatrics he is trying to pull on this are not true,” Armstead.
Armstead said Justice should sign the budget and work with the legislature to backfill some of the cuts it contains with money from improving state revenue collection numbers.
Miley said if he were the governor he would let the bill become law and then begin to spread the message of the impact of the cuts.
“At some point the people who live in this districts, whose programs are being cut, will start putting pressure on their legislators to either live with the cuts or get back in there and do some revenue measures,” Miley said.
Armstead said Justice is taking a big risk if he vetoes the budget.
“There’s very little appetite for tax increases in the House and if that’s where he thinks he’s going to go by doing this I think it’s going to be a real challenge on his part,” Armstead said. “But the governor is into the theatrics and he wants to scare people and he wants to think that that will bring everyone out and suddenly he will get what he wants but I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
The governor’s 2 p.m. discussion will be streamed live at wvmetronews.com.