Justice Halts State Vehicle Purchases
In a memo signed by his deputy chief of staff, Gov. Jim Justice has placed a moratorium on state vehicle purchase, prohibiting them "indefinitely."
Any exceptions, according to the memo, "will only be granted in the most extraordinary circumstances" and must be approved by the Governor's Office.
Since taking office in January, Justice has made reducing the size of the state's vehicle fleet a top priority. So far, state agencies have handed over the keys to more than 300 vehicles, which will likely be auctioned off.
In the memo, Deputy Chief of Staff Jason Pizatella wrote he expects that number will increase.
Pizatella also reminded cabinet secretaries and agency heads that the hiring freeze implemented by former-Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin would remain in effect "due to the current budget crisis."
Hiring will be allowed in areas that are deemed "critical to the public safety and welfare of the state."
The latest revenue estimates from Justice's office predicts a $497 million shortfall in the 2018 fiscal year.
Lawmakers are also attempting to fill a $123 million shortfall in the 2017 fiscal year that ends June 30.
Justice has been highly critical of lawmakers for not sharing a budget plan at the halfway point of the Legislative Session, but Republican leaders say lawmakers have never put out a budget before the end of the session because they are still considering bills that have financial implications for the state.