Putting West Virginia on a Pathway to Prosperity
The Legislature’s special session will resume on Monday. 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 percent 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.
So sure, we can debate the proposal that the Senate and I completely endorse, but it is totally unfair to forget the magnitude of the hole and how bleak it really is.
We are in a heck of a mess and a catastrophe for West Virginia is about to happen. I’m trying to stop it.
I’ve worked with both sides to put forward a plan that will create 48,000 jobs, reform the state tax code, protect our schools and most vulnerable citizens from devastating cuts, give our veterans a tax cut, fix all of our potholes, and give our teachers a pay raise. It will not require one penny from the Rainy Day fund.
We need jobs, yet I read in a newspaper where one journalist says that there will be so many jobs created through our plan that West Virginians won’t be able to fill them all and workers from out of state will have to be brought in.
Really? Too many jobs versus no jobs? Bad roads versus good roads? Do we want the jobs and the opportunity to employ people or do we want to just keep watching West Virginians move away from our state to find jobs elsewhere? That’s crazy thinking!
The plan I’ve put forward has been fine-tuned by working with both sides of the aisle. It’s not a Democratic plan or a Republican plan; it’s a West Virginia plan. It will save our state, cut taxes, control spending, balance the budget, and put our people to work. I’ve spoken privately with many Republicans in the House and Senate and I’m confident these people want to do the right thing. The Democrats have courageously and overwhelming supported our plan to bring opportunity and prosperity.
However, just last week I found myself totally baffled by what took place when the Legislature was in session. On one end of the hall, 100 percent of the Republicans in the Senate were in support of our plan and voted that way. When the legislation went to the other end of the hall, without even reading it, all but two of the House Republicans said no.
History is being made by the Legislature and it’s not something I think they want West Virginians to remember them for — again, crazy.
The choice before the Legislature in the special session is either recovery or death for our state. There was a good bipartisan plan on the table, and it’s past time for us all to work together for the good of all West Virginians to deliver a great budget, an opportunity for all.
The special session costs taxpayers $35,000 per day. I sent up legislation that provided no pay if we went beyond five days in a special session. It never got out of committee.
It’s now up to the House and Senate to move quickly. The longer they wait, the longer it will take to bring new jobs here.
West Virginians are hurting and can’t afford to wait. We need a responsible budget passed ASAP so our people can go to work.
Never forget who brung you to this terrible dance. It wasn’t Governor Jim Justice. In fact he just got here, and in fact he’s trying with everything in him to fix it.
If this fails, our state is doomed.