Governor vetoes prevailing wage, right to work bills

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has vetoed both the right to work and prevailing wage bills.

On Thursday, the governor sent a letter to state Senate President Bill Cole (R-Mercer, 06) expressing his disapproval of the Workplace Freedom Act (SB 1).

Tomblin said he didn’t believe making West Virginia a right to work state would create jobs or help the economy.

“Since becoming governor in 2010, West Virginia has welcomed more than $10 billion in new investments and expansion projects. I do not believe West Virginia needs a right-to-work law, a law that would lead to little if any economy growth and may lower the wages of West Virginia workers,” the governor wrote in part of the letter.

Cole issued a statement Thursday saying he was “not surprised,” but “disappointed” with Tomblin’s decision.

“From the beginning, I have said the Senate is committed to doing what is necessary in order to move our state forward. I believe both of these bills, the West Virginia Workplace Freedom Act and the repeal of the state’s prevailing wage law, accomplish this goal,” Cole said.

The House approved the bill on a 54-46 vote after a nearly five hour debate last week.

Tomblin also sent a letter to House Speaker Tim Armstead (R-Kanawha, 40) to veto the repeal of prevailing wage (HB 4005).

“Last year, I worked with the Legislature to create a compromise on prevailing wage to help local communities by exempting projects less than $500,000 and to improve our state’s prevailing wage calculation,” Tomblin said. “We don’t need to pass bills that lower the wages of West Virginia workers and do little, if anything, to stimulate our economy.”

Armstead also said the governor’s decision wasn’t the response he hoped for.

“Today’s vetoes are disappointing, but not entirely surprising,” Armstead said in a Thursday statement. “Nonetheless, it’s disheartening that the governor, who professes concern about the state’s budget, would reject bills designed to promote economic growth and rein in excess government spending.”

It was a two hour debate last Thursday before the bill passed the Senate with a 18-16 vote.

Both the House and Senate are expected to override both vetoes as soon as Friday.

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