GOP Leaders Share Hopes for State of the State

Jan 14, 2015

Incoming Senate President, Bill Cole.
Credit Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

With the anticipation of Governor Tomblin’s State of the State address tonight, Senate President, Bill Cole and incoming House Speaker, Tim Armstead  shared what they hope to hear in the Governor’s speech.

Every year the Governor’s State of the State address signifies the start of a new legislative session. It’s a time for him to introduce both his proposed budget and legislative priorities for the year. From education to jobs to infrastructure, a number of topics will be mentioned in the hopes of keeping West Virginia moving forward.

With the majority switch in both the House and the Senate, something the state hasn’t seen for some 80 years, the change in leadership may prove to be very interesting.

Incoming Senate President, Bill Cole and incoming House Speaker, Tim Armstead both agree that two of the topics they hope the Governor will speak about is the need for jobs and a better education system.

“The thing that I believe we continue to go back to is the need for jobs, bringing jobs to our state, and creating an environment that is conducive to bring businesses that bring those jobs," said incoming Senate President, Bill Cole, "So I’d like to hear him talk about, you know, clearing the decks a little bit, working, you know, with us on the agenda we plan to bring, to bring those jobs.”

Incoming House Speaker, Tim Armstead.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Incoming House Speaker, Tim Armstead, says to attract better jobs, the state needs a better education system.

“Even if we create the jobs, and we don’t have an educated workforce that can fill those jobs, then we’re still not solving the core issue that we need to solve," noted Armstead, "so I really believe that those two work hand-in-hand, a strong vibrant economy, and a solid educational system in our state are the two keys to really moving our state forward and keeping our kids here in West Virginia.”

Armstead says he also thinks there’s too much control on the state level of West Virginia’s educational systems.

“I would like to see much more of the resources, the effort, the control of our education system be back at the classroom level, back at the school level, be back at the county level," Armstead said, "And so, I don’t know that there is a tense relationship, I wouldn’t say between our Legislature and our Board, but I do think there may be a difference of opinion as to where that control and those resources should be centered.”

Both say they are hoping to work with the Governor and across the aisle with Democrats to better the education system and the business climate.

Senator Cole hopes the Governor avoids using the Rainy Day Fund as much as possible.

“It’s there for a rainy day, but I don’t want to think that you know, one and two and three and four years of budget shortfalls qualifies a rainy day," explained Cole, "At some point in time, we have to look in the mirror and say, wait a minute, you know, why are we continuing to have these budget shortfalls, we need to fix something else.”

Both Senator Cole and Delegate Armstead agree that change will need to happen this session for West Virginia’s situation to improve.

The Governor’s State of the State address will begin tonight at 7:00pm on West Virginia Public Broadcasting.