Gov. Justice on a Budget Before Midnight: 'We are on the Cusp'
Editor's Note: This is a developing story. For more, visit our live blog on the latest from the final night of the Legislature's Regular Session.
Just two hours before the end of the 60th and final day of the 83rd West Virginia Legislature's First Regular Session, Governor Jim Justice said he and Senate President Mitch Carmichael have struck a deal to run a revenue bill that would help push through a budget before midnight.
“To just tell it like it is, I’ve been really pessimistic for the last 36 hours. Until about 2 o’clock today. About 2 o’clock today, the momentum changed and all of the sudden there became a real hope and real optimism,” said Justice during a 10 p.m. Saturday news conference in the Governor’s Reception Room.
“I really believe that we are not there yet, but I do believe that we are on the cusp,” he cautioned. Those words come along with the knowledge that the Legislature needs to close a nearly half a billion dollar budget hole.
Justice outlined a proposal that he said calls a consumer tax increase, a “rich man’s tax” and a business tax.
The bill would call for a 4.5 cent increase on the gas tax, as well as a 1 percent increase on the consumer sales tax, according to Justice during the news conference. He said it doesn’t cut K-12 education and would still provide a 2 percent increase for teachers and also would provide aid to veterans.
“Let’s be hopeful that, at the close of business tonight, we’re there. Wouldn’t it have been something to have pulled that off in the bleakest of bleakest times?” Justice said.
Justice acknowledged that he still needs the support of the House of Delegates if and when his deal with Carmichael makes its way through the Senate.