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UPDATE: Gov. Justice vetoes state budget bill, calls it 'Political Bull-You-Know-What'

(WSAZ)
Published: Apr. 9, 2017 at 4:39 PM EDT
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UPDATE 4/13/17 @ 2:45 p.m.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Governor Jim Justice has vetoed the state budget bill passed by the West Virginia Legislature.

Justice announced the decision Thursday afternoon at the State Capitol Complex.

The veto was expected by Senate President Mitch Carmichael who told WSAZ Sunday he anticipated House Bill 2018 to be vetoed.

The bill proposed almost $30 million in cuts to Marshall and WVU.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael released the following statement after the veto:

“Today’s decision by Governor Justice isn’t entirely unexpected, but it’s nonetheless disappointing. From the beginning, the Senate’s position has been to deliver a budget to the people of West Virginia that lives within its means, and to do that within the 60 days of the regular Legislative session. We lived up to this promise. While it was our hope that the Governor would have signed our reasonable and responsible budget, it’s clear his vision for West Virginia’s future involves a completely different path. We remain committed to working with both the House of Delegates and the Governor to control spending. However, any compromise on this budget absolutely must include comprehensive tax reform. I truly believe tax reform is a bold way to move West Virginia forward, and I hope we will have the support of the House of Delegates and the Governor to achieve this goal.”

House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, issued the following statement:

“I’m saddened that the Governor has decided to throw our state into uncertainty and put fear and worry into the hearts of thousands of hard-working West Virginians because he didn’t get his tax increases. The Legislature delivered a responsible budget that controls spending and makes our state live within its means – a budget that received the support of an overwhelming majority of members in the Legislature.

“With his veto, the Governor has guaranteed another special session. In the end, I do not believe the House will agree to his plans and an additional session likely won’t significantly change the original outcome.

“This Legislature met for 60 days this year and considered proposal after proposal to raise revenue or reform our tax code, but ultimately did not reach any consensus or build enough support around any of these proposals. The majority of our members have heard the calls of the people they represent -- they believe they are taxed enough already and simply cannot afford to pay more for a government that continues to grow year after year.”

Marshall University President Jerome Gilbert said the following:

“I’m pleased at Governor Justice’s announcement today that he will veto the budget bill. That budget would have been devastating for Marshall University and higher education in our state.

“If that budget had gone into effect, Marshall’s state funding would have been reduced by an estimated $8.3 million—in addition to the $11.5 million in state cuts we have had since 2013. Additional sizeable cuts would simply be bad for students, bad for parents, bad for the Marshall community and bad for our state’s economy.

“Seventy-five percent of our students are West Virginians. A decrease of $8.3 million to our state appropriation would have forced us to raise tuition by about 14 percent, meaning that an in-state, undergraduate student at Marshall would have had to pay an additional $1,000 per year for their education. This major increase would make college affordability a reach for some of our students and make graduation all that harder for others.

“Significant cuts would have forced us to consider major restructuring of our programs and academic units, and to look at the possibility of layoffs of faculty and staff, having already eliminated 16 percent of our staff and administrative positions through attrition to deal with the budget cuts over the past few years. All these things would negatively impact the quality of the education and services we can offer our students.

“Our medical school provides critical medical care to people across the region and the proposed budget would have strained those services. In addition, Marshall University is a national leader in the fight against substance abuse -- a fight that our state cannot afford to lose -- and our efforts in that arena would have been hampered by severe cuts to our funding.

“Marshall University’s estimated economic impact is $400 million and our university supports more than 3,000 jobs. These budget reductions would have decreased that impact and derailed valuable partnerships with industries and communities, hindering economic growth and job expansion.

“We have done the same thing year after year -- cuts, cuts and more cuts. Now is the time for a different plan. We urge everyone to come to the table and reach a responsible compromise so our state’s citizens and future generations will not be left behind.

“I appreciate the governor’s leadership on this issue, and look forward to working with him and the legislature on a plan that works for everyone.”

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.


ORIGINAL STORY 4/9/17

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- House Bill 2018, West Virginia's state budget bill, passed the House of Delegates early Sunday morning by a vote of 63 to 37.

The bill also passed the Senate just before midnight Saturday.

According to the House of Delegates Communication Director, Jared Hunt, the bill does not include any tax increases.

Now that it has passed both the House and Senate, it will have to be approved by Governor Jim Justice.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael says he anticipates a veto from the Governor.

"But I have been surprised by other measures in relation to the Governor but I hope he signs it," Carmichael told WSAZ. "Frankly, I think it's a responsible budget and we can come back and revise the tax reform proposals."

Carmichael says he thinks the bill is a responsible budget and controls spending, but believes it takes too much from the Rainy Day Fund.

According to the State Senate Communications Director Jacque Bland, the budget heading to the Governor does not raise any taxes and would use $90 million from the Rainy Day Fund.

The Chair of the House Finance Committee Eric Nelson says the proposed budget is worth $4.1 billion.

He says it is $140 million less than what the house previously planned for. Nelson says the biggest change for the house was that DHHR Medical Services were reduced from $490 million to $350 million.

House Speaker Tim Armstead said in a press release that there would be no cuts to the elderly and disabled waiver programs administered by DHHR.

The budget also includes a $48 million cut to medicaid and Nelson says the budget does not include any funds for Governor Jim Justice's "Save Our State"

It also includes no cuts to public education, but does propose slightly higher cuts of just under $30 million for higher education, including Marshall University and West Virginia University.

The House of Delegates has concluded for the 2017 legislative session and Speaker Tim Armstead is urging Governor Justice to sign the bill.

"We have done our job and presented the Governor with a spending plan that avoids drastic cuts to essential services and education, while also avoiding significant tax increases," Armstead said in a press release. "It's now time for the Governor to live up to the campaign promise he made the West Virginia people and sign this budget that does not raise their taxes."

Armstead said the Governor needs to "accept the reality that his tax increase proposals simply do not have the support of the vast majority of elected representatives in the Legislature."

"He should sign this budget, and then begin working with us as we continue our efforts to streamline this government and make it more efficient so we don't have to continue waging these fights in the future," Armstead said.

The budget bill was passed, but not without controversy.

Governor Justice held a press conference Saturday night and said that his office and the Senate were coming to a compromise.

However, that is not the bill that was passed.

Senate Communications Director Jacque Bland says that particular bill has died.

"The Governor advocated for more spending, he wanted more spending than what is in this budget document," President Carmichael told WSAZ. "He brought to us a proposal that essentially adopted many of the Senate Republican principals of reducing the personal income tax in our state to incentivize jobs, growth and opportunity. We're very pleased that the Governor brought that to us and commend him for doing so but it was very late in the process."

Carmichael says the Senate had a 400-500 page document to look through and that they needed time to validate the document with their colleagues in the House.

"The budget deal had been largely negotiated between the Governor and the Senate and so we value the input of our House colleagues to an extreme degree so we wanted to make sure we give them an opportunity," Carmichael said.

President Carmichael says they're in conversation with the Governor's office to ensure that they can deliver on the tax reform pledge.

"If he were to call us for a Special Session, which I hope he does so we can complete work on those special items," Carmichael said. "It would be done in just such an expedited manner that it wouldn't cost the taxpayers of West Virginia but very minimal amounts."

Keep clicking WSAZ mobile and WSAZ.com for more updates as they become available.

More from Justice on State Budget

More from WV Governor Jim Justice on the state budget.

Posted by WSAZ NewsChannel 3 on Thursday, April 13, 2017

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