W.Va. Gov. delivers State of the State
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Justice -- now recovered from COVID-19 -- returned to the House chamber Thursday to deliver his State of the State address. He touted numerous accomplishments and, at times, used that list as an, “I told you so,” of sorts.
The Governor noted record surpluses, low employment and three major economic announcements in saying the rocket ride he promised five years ago is coming to fruition.
He then urged the passage of a pay raise for state workers.
Gov. Justice also called on lawmakers to fund food banks, a new consolidated lab for state agencies, and locality pay to boost State Police recruitment.
On education, the Governor called for full funding of college classes taken by high school students, tougher penalties on those who abuse students, and expanded courses to teach computer programming.
Gov. Justice also called for a tax credit to boost home construction, but he saved BabyDog for last.
“Absolutely too many people doubted us,” Justice told lawmakers. “They never believed in West Virginia. They never believed in West Virginia -- that we could do it. They never believed that the NuCors or the GreenPower or Owens and Minor. They never believed. They never believed they’d be here. They told every bad joke in the world about us. And so, from that standpoint, Babydog tells Bette Midler and all of those out there to kiss her heinie.”
Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, and House Minority Leader Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha, were among those who reacted to the speech afterward.
“It’s wonderful,” Blair said. “The Governor delivered a message tonight to the people of West Virginia that things are on the upswing in the state. Job opportunities up. Employment opportunities up. The economy is booming in this state.”
Skaff criticized Justice for alleged omissions.
“No mention about how we’re going to keep our students in West Virginia once they finish college -- stay in West Virginia, nothing about that,” he said. “I was just disappointed in that he didn’t work harder into his speech about our retirees and all of those people who have given so much through the years.”
Gov. Justice paused for a moment of silence to remember those lost to COVID-19. He also joined lawmakers in noting the recent death of longtime House Speaker Bob Kiss, who passed late last year.
The Governor’s speech was delayed two weeks due to his diagnosis and recovery from COVID-19 in earlier January.
The regular session of the Legislature rolls on Friday with Day 17 of 60.
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