Chris Schulz Published

Justice Says He Will Call Special Session Before Primary Election

The curve of a dome takes up most of the frame, with a blue sky taking up the top left corner. Gold detailing dominates the dome's profile.
A closeup of the West Virginia Capitol dome.
Courtesy of West Virginia Legislative Photography

Gov. Jim Justice said he will call a special session of the West Virginia Legislature to address budget priorities missed in the regular session. 

The governor had already discussed calling a special session in May before the final gavel of the regular session Saturday night. But during a regular briefing Thursday, a visibly frustrated Justice said he is likely to call legislators back to the capitol before the May 14 primary election.

He said the proposed budget was rushed, omitting key tax breaks for families and creating a “big time problem” for the newly formed Department of Human Services.

“We spent a lot of time talking about issues that were more social issues and forgot to budget,” Justice said. “And absolutely at the last minute, we kind of tried to run in and switch this and that and everything else and we made a bunch of mistakes.”

Although he did not name a specific legislator, Justice made several references to a “per se expert” senator who he accused of leading the budget process into problems.

“Please tell me why we didn’t take the time to listen to the people that are the real experts,” he said. “The real experts are the people that have been in our revenue department and absolutely have been a real part of this unprecedented economic run … We didn’t listen to them. We listened to somebody that’s inexperienced, to be perfectly honest, but commands the floor.” 

Justice explained that waiting until after the mid-May elections would push the budgeting process too close to the end of the fiscal year.

“This has got to be corrected before the end of the fiscal year,” he said. “We may very well have to call people back some time in April.”