Liz McCormick Published

Gov. Justice Releases 2022 State Of The State ‘Message’ After Testing Positive For COVID-19

Jim Justice 2020 State of the State - Arrow Poster.jpg

Gov. Jim Justice released a statement Wednesday night to West Virginia lawmakers that took the place of his traditional State of the State address.

On Tuesday evening, the governor tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to postpone his address until a later date.

“I’m happy to report to you that the state of our state has never been stronger … [but] I sincerely apologize for not being able to be with you in person to deliver these remarks,” Justice wrote.

Justice highlighted records in state revenue growth, booms to the state’s tourism industry, and a record low unemployment rate.

“In 2021, more than $1.1 billion was invested in West Virginia, about 39 different companies through economic development efforts and activities,” he wrote. “This led to the creation of more than 1,330 new jobs, while retaining more than 6,400 additional jobs in the state in the calendar year of 2021.”

He said total employment in the state has increased by more than 36,000 jobs.

Justice also said that even though the state has been losing population, he pointed to an increase of 2,000 people over the past year.

“From April 2010 to July 2019, more than 43,000 people moved out of the state. But things are changing. People are moving here instead of leaving, businesses are moving here and expanding operations.”

Justice also celebrated the state’s recent agreements with companies Nucor Steel and GreenPower Motor Company, which could bring hundreds of jobs to the state.

“Nucor is going to be a key part of West Virginia’s DNA long into the future,” he wrote. “This record investment will exceed $2.7 billion, making it the largest in West Virginia history, as well as the largest single investment Nucor has ever made.”

GreenPower Motor Company will manufacture zero emission, electric school buses in South Charleston.

The governor proposed a flat budget for fiscal year 2023 that includes a pay increase and bonus for state employees.

“My budget is only 1.4 percent higher than last year, far below the 7 percent inflation rate being seen across our country,” he wrote. “[The bonus] will help West Virginians who are hurting when they go to the gas pump or the grocery store. I need [the West Virginia Legislature’s] support to pass this one time pay supplement for our hard working West Virginia State employees, teachers and service personnel.”

He said the state will not need to dip into its rainy day fund to balance the budget. The governor also reiterated for West Virginians to get vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19.

“I do not believe that anyone should be required to get vaccinated to continue collecting a paycheck and put food on the table for their family,” he wrote. “Instead of forcing people to get the vaccine we’ve created incentives to excite people and get them across the finish line.”

Justice also mentioned he will continue to support funding for Communities in Schools, Jobs & Hope and the Roads to Prosperity programs.

Justice will deliver his address in-person once he is well.