Chris Schulz Published

House Democrats Offer Minority Response To State of State Address

2023 House Minority Response
Del. Sean Hornbuckle, D-Cabell, stands at a lectern in front of his House Democratic caucus Jan. 12 to deliver part of the 2023 House Minority response to the governor's State of the State address.
Chris Schulz

House Democrats presented a minority response to the governor’s State of the State address Thursday morning on the steps of the House of Delegates.

Minority Leader Del. Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha, opened by saying that his caucus was focused on making sure all West Virginians’ voices were heard.

“We’re going to ask who does this help? Who does this hurt?” Skaff said. “We don’t want to just spend the surplus money, we want to invest the surplus money. The goal is to invest in the future of West Virginia and invest in the people of West Virginia.”

He criticized the governor’s State of the State for having a lot of big ticket items without specifics or details, especially on how to pay for a 50 percent cut to personal income tax.

“We need a complete systematic approach to tax reform that impacts the most amount of West Virginians in the best way that we can maintain and sustain,” Skaff said.

In summarizing the minority position, Del. Sean Hornbuckle, D-Cabell, expressed a willingness to work with the governor, and said the minority would be “the adults in the room.”

“We want to make sure that we’re not cutting any vital services to any everyday West Virginians,” he said. “If in that plan, we have a pathway to make sure that we can replace monies, to the people that need it the most, we’re open to it. We’re never going to be against it.”

Democratic Party Vice Chair Del. Danielle Walker, D-Monongalia, said the House Democrats, who she dubbed The ‘Mighty 12’, are willing to work across the aisle and will stand for all West Virginians.

“As the Democratic Party, democracy is first,” she said. “We see at the beginning, day one yesterday that a lot of freedoms are going to be taken away. How will the people of West Virginia know what’s going on in their house?”

Walker was referring to a change in the House rules that removes rebuttal from debate of bills.

Del. Larry Rowe, D-Kanawha, said while the rule change sounds innocuous, it represents a dramatic change in how business is conducted in the House.

“What it means is that you cannot offer any opinion about someone who’s offering an opinion about your ideas,” he said. “They can mistake them, they can misunderstand them. There are so many things that are involved. You should be able to present your ideas, have people comment, object, agree whatever it might be, and then you’ll be able to come back and respond.”