By SEÁN O’DONOGHUE
CHARLESTON – In his State of the State message, two months ago, Governor Jim Justice described the state’s financial picture as an “18 karat dog’s mess.” Last week, he turned to animal excrement once again, this time deploying an actual plate of cow manure to decry political maneuvering in the Mountain State.
Justice signed a veto, Thursday April 13, 2017, saying the budget bill passed by the Legislature was nothing more than “a bunch of political bull you-know-what.” At the Capitol, he lifted the lid from a tray that had a large pile of bull manure placed on a printed copy of the budget.
Joined by various business, labor, education, and civic leaders, Justice said the Legislature’s budget “would do nothing but hurt West Virginians not help them”.
“I’ve tried really hard for 60 days. I’ve been all over the state and it’s taken a lot of energy,” Governor Justice said. “At the end of the day we ended up nowhere.”
“Now if what we’re going to do is still end up nowhere then the decision is real simple,” Governor Justice added. “I can just take the budget as it is now and sign it and sign our death certificate and then just say I’ve done everything that I know I can do.”
Using his signature white boards, Governor Justice detailed the plan lawmakers put in front of him.
“I want to show you just how detrimental the budget we have in front of us is,” Governor Justice said.
Among the budget shortcomings claimed by Justice were the following:
•No Teachers Pay Raise
•No Veterans Retirement Exemption
•No Additional Tourism Marketing Funds
•Massive cuts to programs for the poor, disabled and senior citizens including a $39.7 million cut to Medicaid that will also cause the state to lose an additional $178 million in Federal funds
•Major cuts to WVU, Marshall, all Community and Technical Colleges and all other Colleges and Universities
“There is something that goes on in this great building that I don’t like,” said Governor Justice. “We seem to think its ok to not tell the truth. We think we can just not tell the truth and that’s just politics. Or we think we can play games and its politics. There are people here that are a bunch of junkies and they love it. They live for it. They think its great stuff. But you know at the end of all the games there’s a name out there, there’s a family out there and we’re hurting them,” Governor Justice added. “We’re hurting them with the games. West Virginians deserve a budget that will allow them to prosper,” said Justice.
House Speaker Tim Armstead )R-Kanawha) responded, late last week. “The comments made by the governor in vetoing this budget were misleading to the people of West Virginia. They were not accurate and they were not what the people of West Virginia deserve from their governor,” Armstead said. “This budget did not cut the waiver program within DHHR and these cuts to higher education, in terms of their overall operating budget, were one to two percent.”