Optimism. That’s the key to moving the state of West Virginia forward, according the newly elected Senate President and House Speaker.
The 83rd Legislature gaveled in for the first time Wednesday to elect chamber leaders and take their oaths of office, hearing for the first time as a body from the men who will lead them through the upcoming Legislative session.
In the House of Delegates, Tim Armstead will continue in his role as Speaker. The long-time delegate from Kanawha County took over the role in 2015 after spending years as the minority leader.
Jackson County Senator Mitch Carmichael was unanimously elected Senate President after Democrats broke with tradition and did not nominate a member of their own party for the position.
Senate Minority Leader Roman Prezioso, who would have been that nominee, moved to close the nominating process with only Carmichael's name proposed "in the spirit of unity and cooperation."
In their addresses to the chambers, Carmichael and Armstead both spoke of the need for optimism in the Legislature in order to move the state forward during challenging times.
"What I believe our state needs more than ever before is urgency and optimism. At this point in our history, we need a legislature full of optimists, realistic optimists, but optimists who can see the opportunities that are embedded in the challenges we face,” Armstead told his fellow delegates.
The largest of those challenges is the state’s budget.
Lawmakers will face a projected $400 million budget gap during the 2017 session which begins on Feb. 8.