Randy Yohe Published

Justice Lays Out Agenda In Seventh Message To Legislature


Gov. Jim Justice offered his legislative wish list as part of his seventh State of the State address Wednesday night.

Relying heavily on a state revenue surplus of nearly $2 billion so far, Justice said he wanted to advance a 2022 economic development drive that he says brought 29 businesses into the state, invested more than $6 billion and created or preserved more than 6,000 jobs.

Since last session, Justice has been promoting a personal income tax cut. Last year, he asked for a 10 percent cut. This time he is asking for a 50 percent cut phased in over three years.

“We’ll do 30 percent the first year, 10 percent the next year and 10 percent the next year,” he said. “What will be the multiplier effect of that? Will it be six times or 10 times tomorrow. You will become your own stimulus package with zero growth.”

Justice also proposed sending $40 million to state hospitals to make adjustments and offset minimal reimbursement to Public Employee Insurance Agency (PEIA) insurance holders, and deliver a promised pay raise.

“I want to put $100 million back into our PEIA fund and give every state worker a five percent pay raise,” he said.

Both the House and Senate propose dividing the Department of Health and Human Resources into three separate cabinet agencies.

“I want to listen to every one of your ideas,” he said. “I want them to listen to your ideas. We all can do one thing. If we do it, we can make it better.”

On the education front, Justice proposed $37 million go to a school aid formula increase for first grade teachers, $15 million into the Hope scholarship program, $75 million into higher education deferred maintenance – and an initiative to let all parents see their child’s curriculum online.

All of our parents deserve to know exactly what’s going on in a classroom. Without a question, our parents have always known what the best is for their kids,” he said.

He also proposed an $11 million dollar effort to stop hunger in West Virginia, $1 million for child pregnancy centers and an incentive program for veterans to move back to their home state. He also proposed spending $250 billion to consolidate state laboratories.

There was applause and standing ovations, but it remains to be seen how the legislature will receive Justice’s proposals over the next 60 days.