CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — West Virginia Governor Jim Justice entered the joint session to loud applause, much of it based on the state’s recent economic success stories. In his address the governor cited the recent arrival of Nucor Steel and Green Power, bringing with them more than a thousand initial jobs.
“We are that diamond in the rough. We’re the diamond in the rough that can absolutely do all kinds of greatness. I mean I believe in our people beyond belief,” said Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia.
“We’ve hit a home run in economic development, in turning this state around. And we’re getting ready to lower taxes and we’re going to do great things for the people of West Virginia,” said State Sen. Craig Blair, (R) Berkeley – Senate President.
There was wide bipartisan support and applause for the good economic developments, and the promised 5-percent pay raise for all state workers, teachers and school staff. But some Democrats say the Governor missed the mark by not addressing some other key issues.
“I would have liked to hear him talk about the teacher shortage a little more. I’m ecstatic that we’re going to give our public employees a five-percent raise,” said Del Lisa Zukoff, (D) Marshall.
“He touched on Fentanyl, but we continue to have a drug crisis out there. I wish he would have focused a little more on mental health issues, that are ravishing our state, and our campuses across the state,” said Del. Doug Skaff, (D) Kanawha – Minority Leader.
The night had a touching tribute to the late House Speaker and Revenue Secretary Bob Kiss who died in November. And then there was humor when Baby Dog appeared. The Governor pointed his beloved dog’s rear end towards the state’s critics including singer Bette Midler, who made recent disparaging comments.
“Of course one of the biggest tasks will be carving up the governor’s proposed $5 billion dollar budget. The legislature has 44 more days in this session to do just that,” said Mark Curtis 13 News Chief Political Reporter.