CHARLESTON – Staying true to his promise to take innovative and bold steps to move West Virginia’s economy forward, Governor Jim Justice provided a solid blueprint for addressing the state budget crisis while still bolstering the business climate.
“Governor Justice knows that the current dire budget situation calls for significant short-term sacrifices, but he hasn’t lost sight of his long-term goals of generating good paying jobs, growing the middle class and making West Virginia a top destination for both businesses and young workers – and he’s ready to get started on those goals right away,” West Virginia AFL-CIO President Josh Sword said.
Despite predictions of large-scale layoffs and wage reductions, Governor Justice presented a budget plan that retains most state employees and the services they provide, Sword noted.
“Our public safety employees, highway workers and other public sector workers provide essential services to West Virginia taxpayers that need to be protected,” he said.
Sword applauded the much-needed pay raise for teachers.
“I know that finding the funding for those raises is extremely difficult, but Governor Justice understands that attracting and retaining good teachers is critical to the future of our students and our state’s workforce,” he said.
Also critical to the state’s future is ensuring adequate infrastructure.
“Governor Justice clearly laid out the importance of roads, bridges and other infrastructure improvements to economic development,” Sword noted. “In addition, those improvement projects he plans to initiate will create tens of thousands of jobs for West Virginians, which is great news that’s long overdue.”
Sword said the Governor’s legislative agenda is a welcome departure from the anti-worker measures pushed by the Legislative leadership over the past two years.
“Governor Justice wants to create new, good-paying jobs rather than passing laws like we’ve seen the past two sessions that lower wages, reduce benefits and make workplaces less safe,” he said. “The Governor is to be commended for working to build up our workforce by investing in our schools, infrastructure and communities while reducing government bureaucracy and eliminating unnecessary red tape.”
Overall, Governor Justice’s unconventional speech was an optimistic breath of fresh air.
“Tonight we saw a big man use a big whiteboard to present to us some giant ideas that will help West Virginia get back on its feet,” Sword said. “For our part, we support Governor Justice’s vision at a rate of ‘17 thousand million percent,’ and stand ready to assist him in his efforts to improve life for West Virginia working families.”