CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WDVM) — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice held his 2022 State of the State address two weeks after the event had to be canceled because the governor tested positive for COVID-19. The first year of Justice’s second term has come to a close, and while the Mountain State is still in the midst of a COVID surge, Justice had a lot of praise for West Virginia’s progress.
The governor celebrated the change in the perception of the state — referencing the recent increase in people moving to the area — as well as the boom in tourism and surge of people visiting the official website.
“Through the combination of you guys, through the combination of WVU, through the combination of our tourism folks and everything else, 2.5 million people visited us and said ‘we have an interest in West Virginia,'” Justice said.
Justice also discussed issues impacting the mountain state like addiction and poverty. Justice went on to pledge to tackle an issue that he says doesn’t get a lot of attention: police staffing.
“Our state police continues to have dwindling numbers. We have had three cadet classes since I walked in the door and who knows how long before that we didn’t have any,” the governor explained. “We need to move forward with locality pay, and we need to absolutely support the very very people that support us.”
In addition to this commitment to strengthen the police force, Gov. Justice also pledged to find a way to build more houses across West Virginia in order to sustain its current boost in popularity.
The governor paid his respects to the late former Speaker of the West Virginia House, Robert Kiss, who passed away in November 2021.