BECKLEY, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice highlighted his administration’s accomplishments, while chiding members of the news media about their coverage of the state’s economic upturn, during a town hall-style event in Raleigh County Thursday.
Following up on remarks made during his Wednesday press conference, the governor told the audience at Beckley’s Black Knight Country Club West Virginia’s revenue numbers are breaking records, which he attributed to robust generation of severance taxes, corporate net income taxes, personal income taxes, sales taxes, and lower unemployment. The governor then said he has dismayed by what he characterized as a lack of interest by media outlets, regarding the improved economic landscape.
“I picked up two papers real quick, on the way over here, the Charleston (Gazette-Mail) and the (Beckley Register-Herald). I just looked at the front page. Not a mention,” he said. “You know what was there? — and, this gets right back to what I’m saying — everything that was there was focused around education.”
With state House members scheduled to gavel into special session Monday to consider the omnibus education measure approved by the Senate, Justice warned of legislative and electoral setbacks for Republicans, as a result of GOP infighting over education reform.
“You got some loudmouth people that scream and say ‘We need to stay together in our caucus,’ ” said Justice. “If you don’t watch what you’re doing, here’s what you’re going to awaken to: you’re going to awaken to Joe Manchin as your governor, for absolute certain. You’re absolutely going to awaken to a minority in the Senate.”
The governor cautioned audience members about consequences he predicted would occur, in the event he is not re-elected for another term, citing his relationship with President Trump as a strategic advantage for the state, most notably in terms of future industrial expansion and harvesting of natural resources.
“Whether or you like him or don’t him, whether you like me or don’t like me, you’ve got a president of the United States of America, today, that truly has an attraction to West Virginia. And, his attraction to West Virginia, contrary to anything you may think, is me. That’s it. That’s all there is to it. It’s just me,” said Justice, who predicted the president would lose interest in West Virginia without Justice’s presence in the executive branch. “I hate to say it but President Trump will hardly know who West Virginia is. And, at the end of the day, we’ll probably lose a lot of stuff to a neighboring state because the relationship’s gone.”
The governor went on to say continued improvement of West Virginia’s economy will be contingent largely on the completion of his Roads to Prosperity road construction projects throughout the state, particularly the King Coal Highway in the Bluefield area of Mercer County.