The bickering that has persisted at the statehouse since the end of the special session between Gov. Jim Justice and legislative leaders continued at the Capitol Wednesday, this time over restrooms.
Justice’s Office sent another statement Wednesday morning - one of many released over the past few weeks - criticizing members of the Legislature for their funding priorities.
In the fiscal year 2018 budget, lawmakers included $860,000 for a project to upgrade restrooms within the state Capitol building, a project that was approved in 2009 under former-Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. Lawmakers say they had set aside the money for the project.
The governor called the funding “bullsnot” because the upgrades include some private restrooms that only lawmakers can access.
“Based on how poorly the Legislature did this past year, the taxpayers shouldn’t pay them for a new outhouse— much less a new luxury bathroom,” Justice said.
But as it turns out, the plan pays for necessary upgrades in the Capitol building’s public restrooms to make them compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Passed in 1990, the federal ADA is a civil rights law that protect individuals from discrimination based on their disability.
In a written statement, Senate President Mitch Carmichael countered the governor’s attack, saying the bathrooms had not been updated since the Capitol was built in 1932.
“I think the audacity for the Governor to be so crass and callous about desperately needed renovations to the people’s house is simply beneath the kind of person we expect to lead this state,” Carmichael said.
“If the Governor finds it so deeply offensive that the Senate would choose to spend its responsibly managed operations budget on making our State Capitol more accessible to West Virginians with disabilities, I’m proud to be the person who offended him.”
The project includes updates to 8 restrooms, including those throughout the members’ offices.
In an additional statement Wednesday afternoon the governor said:
“Of course I want state facilities accessible to ALL West Virginians. The issue is spending taxpayer money on the PRIVATE office bathrooms that are only for Senators. After the Senate cut the DHHR budget and hurt our sick, poor, and disabled it’s nice that they finally want to do something to help people with disabilities.”