Justice vetoes budget passed by Legislature
By Phil Kabler, The Charleston Gazette-Mail
Gov. Jim Justice this afternoon vetoed a budget passed by the state Legislature on Saturday, saying signing the budget would be like “signing our death certificate.”
Justice referred to “nothing burgers” and “mayo sandwiches,” two food props he used earlier in the legislative session, before unveiling a third platter continuing “bull you-know-what,” in the governor’s phrase, to describe the budget approved last weekend.
In front of a crowd of dozens at the state Capitol, Justice used two whiteboards to cross out a list of things he said lawmakers’ budget would harm, including West Virginia and Marshall universities; poor, disabled and senior West Virginians; and the state’s financial health.
The governor criticized the politics surrounding the struggle over the budget.
“We don’t have to be this way,” he said. “And if we’re this way, you know what’s going to get done? Nothing.”
Justice’s announcement was the latest chapter in a tug-of-war between the governor and Legislature to come up with a 2017-18 state budget bill that closes a $500 million revenue shortfall.
The governor initially proposed a $4.5 billion general revenue budget plan, requiring nearly $400 million in new taxes, including a ½ percent increase in the sales tax and a .2 percent gross receipts tax, while cutting spending by $26.6 million.
Justice’s budget included new funding for a Save Our State economic development and business recruitment plan, a 2 percent pay raise for classroom teachers, and a significant increase in funding for state tourism promotion and advertising.