Lawmakers await Justice decision on budget

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Lawmakers await Justice decision on budget
Jeff Jenkins, WV MetroNews

Whatever Gov. Jim Justice decides to do Thursday with the budget bill will impact state lawmakers.

Justice will make his decision known in a 2 p.m. news conference in the Lower Rotunda.

During an appearance Wednesday on MetroNews “Talkline,” state Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Trump (R-Morgan) said Justice should sign the $4.1 billion spending plan into law.

“Do what the families do when times are tight, tighten your belt, make some cuts, do them sensibly,” Trump said. “I believe if the governor will sign this budget it will work.”

The budget includes no tax increases, cuts $110 million in spending and takes $90 million from the state’s Rainy Day Fund.

Delegate Brent Boggs (D-Braxton), also a guest on “Talkline” Wednesday, said Justice should veto the budget because of the proposed cuts to higher education and the state DHHR.

“If we don’t start making the shift and the transition to fund our higher education institutions and our community and technical colleges we’re not going to have to worry about attracting jobs and businesses because they are going to bypass us,” Boggs said.

WVU has said it’s cut in the budget is about $16 million while legislative leaders said it was more like $8 million before last weekend’s vote on the plan. The cut is to the university’s state allocation not it’s overall budget.

Boggs, who supports Justice’s tax increase plans, said he’s hopeful several days away from Charleston and a Justice veto will help more lawmakers get on the same page when it comes to future budget discussions.

“What may be a non-starter today, when a little times goes by, people may soften their views,” he said.

Trump sounded similarly hopeful.

“We have to have everybody rowing in the same direction. The challenges that West Virginia faces prevent us from being petulant and going in different directions. We have to find ways to talk with one another,” Trump said.