WV Gov. Jim Justice says he's probably running again; British ambassador speaks at Clay County, WV, High School

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By: Jake Jarvis, WV News

CLAY — Gov. Jim Justice told a group of students at Clay County High School Wednesday morning that he would probably be running for a second term in 2020.

Justice, speaking at an event with the British ambassador to the United States, said he would decide for sure in a “little while.”

“I really felt like I was here to serve, and I didn’t know if there would be enough challenges to motivate me to be able to stay,” Justice said, remembering when he first took office. “If I were to tell you deep in my heart today, I’m going to probably run again.”

Justice was at the school, along with House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw, for a press conference with the ambassador. Afterward, Justice took questions from the students.

One student asked him if it were true that he was actually planning to give teachers another 5 percent raise and working to find a fix to teachers’ health insurance plans run by the state.

Justice promised at a press conference in early October that teachers would get another 5 percent raise and that he would ensure another $100 million goes toward the Public Employees Insurance Agency — the state agency that runs their health insurance plans.

Justice repeated his promise on Wednesday, saying that another 5 percent raise is “an absolute certainty.” He said the raise approved earlier this year, which was for all state employees, along with teachers and the schools’ service personnel, was the largest single-year raise in the state’s history.

“Here’s the deal,” Justice told the students. “I don’t make promises and not come through. I don’t do it. I don’t ever, ever — there’s no way I’d do anything but tell you the truth.”

Justice said it is a “gospel fact” that he and the Legislature will come back and do another 5 percent raise for state employees in 2019. He also said they would make a $100 million commitment to PEIA.

In Justice’s letter to the PEIA, Justice did not include the extra $100 million in his revenue projections. He wrote that the agency should expect to have the same amount of money in the next fiscal year as it currently does not. Some have speculated that the money would still be committed to PEIA, but might be placed in some sort of reserve fund.

Justice was at the school Wednesday morning for a scheduled press conference with Kim Darroch, the British ambassador. Darroch described what his job is like to students, and they asked him questions about how the British government works compared to the federal government of the United States.

Several students asked Darroch about what his country hopes to gain by exiting the European Union, and how the country’s queen fits in with its daily governance.

“Mister ambassador, which do you prefer — the written Constitution of the United States, or the unwritten one of your country?” one student asked, prompting laughter from the crowd.

Darroch said that he’s happy with the collection of laws and documents that are collectively known as the country’s constitution. But if he had to have a single, written constitution, Darroch said he’d be happy with the Constitution of the United States.