Justice Budget Veto Means Special Session Ahead

Apr 13, 2017

Gov. Jim Justice has vetoed the budget bill lawmakers approved early Sunday morning.

The bill relies on $90 million from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to find a balance and Justice said signing it would be like signing the state’s death certificate.

The $4.1 billion budget includes major cuts to the state Department of Health and Human Resources and higher education, including 12 percent reductions to West Virginia University and Marshall University.

It does not include the governor’s proposed 2 percent teacher pay raise or his increased marketing budget for tourism, and because of the failure and veto of several pieces of legislation, is actually short about $32 million, according to the governor.

Justice vetoed the bill during a press conference at the Capitol Thursday, calling it “political bull-you-know-what,” revealing a plate of feces in the Capitol rotunda.

Justice said Republican leaders in the Legislature weren’t being honest with the public, claiming they asked for a veto.

“The Republicans passed this and turned around and called and called and called and said, surely you’re going to veto this,” he said. “Surely you’re going to veto this because we don’t want to own it.”

But Justice also went after Democratic members of the Legislature, saying he had brokered a deal with Senate President Mitch Carmichael late Saturday night, right before the end of the session, that included increased taxes and changes to the personal income tax.

Justice said Democrats in the Senate initially refused to back the plan and then the bill never surfaced during the late night meeting.

Both Democrats and Republicans in the House of Delegates said Saturday night they were never informed of a deal between the Senate and Governor’s Office, which angered some members.

Justice did not mention during the press conference when he would call lawmakers back to Charleston for a special session. They are constitutionally required to approve a balanced budget by June 30, or risk an unprecedented government shutdown.