Jim Justice in 2019 Governor's State of the State speeches


On Budget & Economy: Balanced $217M budget deficit with no new taxes

The first time I walked in the door [in 2017], things were pretty doggone tough. Our state was bankrupt: a $217,000,000 deficit, and the next year, it's gonna be $497,000,000, and the next year, 600 and some.

And I prayed a lot. And I truly give the good Lord the credit for all the good ideas, and I'll take the credit for the bad ones. But 23 months later, we're here today, there's been lots and lots and lots of hard work. Didn't have anywhere to go. Had to cut. Had to cut to balance the budget.

Well, we haven't had any cut budgets recently, and we're not going to have one today either. Today, we have things that are so good, so pluses. No new taxes. Did you hear that? No new taxes.

You're going to see a budget that is increased less than the rate of inflation, a budget that is increasing significantly less than the economic growth of our state. And you're able to announce--the biggest in the State's history--a surplus bigger than we've ever had before.

Source: 2019 State of the State address to West Virginia legislature Jan 9, 2019

On Drugs: Jim's Dream: job training program for drug addicts

We've got to fix the drug problem. The very number one thing you had to have to get the drug problem halfway under control is jobs. But you know what? We're losing the battle. We're losing. So I'm going to ask you tonight to trust me. I'm going to propose a program called "Jim's Dream." because I want it to be just that. I want it to be a dream that we can take our people off this terrible drug trail, and we can put them in a job, and we can give them real live hope.

Why don't we some way, somehow, let our people that are struggling on drugs beyond belief go get treatment for free, provided that they'll come out of treatment and go into some level of training and provided they'll take constant drug tests?

If I'm an addict, and I go to treatment and I get better and then I go into some level of training and I get a certificate, that I will be able to take that to a court and get immediate expungement of a misdemeanor that I have. Not felonies, but a misdemeanor.

Source: 2019 State of the State address to West Virginia legislature Jan 9, 2019

On Drugs: Jim's Dream: $10M for equipment at vo-tech training centers

I'm going to call this "Jim's Dream," because I want it to be just that. I want it to be a dream that we can take our people off this terrible drug trail, and we can put them in a job, and we can give them real live hope.

It's going to take some money to do this. Not all the money in the world.

The "J" is going to stand for "jobs." The "I" is going to be "in." The "M" is going to be "making." And the little apostrophe is upside down, and we twisted it around to make a "U." "Succeed." Now, looks a little funny, doesn't it? But it looks pretty much like I'd probably write.

But here's what I think we need to do: I think our best alternative today is the adult training in the education department. And here's the problem: Nobody's really going today. The reason nobody's really going is it's not real training that they can go get a real job. But what I'm going to ask you for is $10,000,000 for staffing and replacement and maintenance of equipment at the training centers, at the vo-tech centers.

Source: 2019 State of the State address to West Virginia legislature Jan 9, 2019

On Drugs: Adamantly opposed to recreational marijuana, but medical ok

As far as medical cannabis, we need to solve the riddle, guys. We're running out of time. There's a lot of people out there that are hurting, and they could probably very well use medical cannabis.

I want everyone here to understand -- I am adamantly, adamantly, etched in stone, adamantly against recreational marijuana.

Source: 2019 State of the State address to West Virginia legislature Jan 9, 2019

On Education: 5% teacher's pay raise, as part of education reform

I would have said before, "Make education our centerpiece. " You see, I've really been a believer that education is the hot spot that really can change our image.

Now, we have decided to invest. We got rid of A through F. We absolutely got rid of so much of the ridiculous testing, and we put control back in the local hands as much as we can.

We absolutely gave a 5% teacher's pay raise, and we ended up giving a 5% across-the-board pay raise to all State employees. We did change our image. We've still got a long ways to go, but we did change it.

In regard to PEIA, [the Public Employees Insurance Agency], I promised that we would put $50,000,000 in PEIA one year, and $100,000,000 total. Well, we've got enough surplus dollars, we could put $100,000,000 into PEIA right now. But today, PEIA does not need any true-up moneys. Putting $100,000,000 into PEIA is a giant first step. And we can do that, and that is exactly what we're going to do.

Source: 2019 State of the State address to West Virginia legislature Jan 9, 2019

On Environment: Invest $14M in tourism and revenue comes flying right back

Tourism is another wonderfully bright spot in West Virginia. In 2017, we had unbelievable growth. We greatly surpassed the natural growth. In 2018, it looks even stronger and stronger. Our hotel occupancy is up 11 percent. You know, our increased prices in revenue in our hotels is up 13.4%, and I will be asking you for another $14,000,000, because every dollar we put in tourism comes flooding back to us. It's a multiplier effect.

It's just absolutely a cash register. We put the money in, it comes flying right back at us. We seeing this every month in our surpluses. This is the state that ought to be the number one state in the nation as far as tourism.

Source: 2019 State of the State address to West Virginia legislature Jan 9, 2019

On Environment: $60M upgrade to state parks

We sold $60,000,000 of excess lottery bonds to upgrade our state parks. We have absolutely been doing that. That's all underway right now. We're getting a tremendous response with our state parks, and there's just lots of good going on there.

As far as our DNR efforts we've made, you know, we have reestablished an Elk herd in West Virginia; we're extending deer seasons. We're doing so many things with our trout and our streams, and we're exposing this state in so many ways, it's unbelievable.

Source: 2019 State of the State address to West Virginia legislature Jan 9, 2019

On Free Trade: Supports tariffs that lead to good deals when dust settles

Don't think for a second that the China issue is off the table or the natural gas hub is gone. Today, like it or not like it, but we're still having a little bit of head-butting going on with the U.S. and China, and until the dust settles, you know, between our Presidents and everything [with the ongoing US tariffs and retaliatory Chinese tariffs], we're probably going to have a little head-butting going on, but they're still in touch all the time.

There's absolutely so much interest in West Virginia. We have so many possibilities for manufacturing and natural gas hub and expansion of our coal industry and on and on and on, tourism through the roof, and so many different things.

Source: 2019 State of the State address to West Virginia legislature Jan 9, 2019

On Homeland Security: More programs for National Guard and veterans

The National Guard has brought in 300 jobs in the last year--and it's created an economic impact on the State of West Virginia of $361,000,000.

Think about the Mountaineer Challenge Academy [a National Guard residential program for earning high school diplomas]. Think about young men and women that are just absolutely lost. Last year, they're going to have above a 90% graduation rate. And those people are on their way.

Now, let me jump to the veterans. Our veterans, we owe all to. We all know that. We are able to exempt their retirement. Good stuff. There's a few other things that we're able to do right now that you'll see in the budget, good stuff.

But I can tell you just this: For any of us here that think that we don't owe every single thing that we have to our vets, we're just plain wrong.

Source: 2019 State of the State address to West Virginia legislature Jan 9, 2019

On Social Security: Totally exempt on your Social Security from State income tax

Today is the time for us to eliminate the tax on Social Security. Let me just say this, that what we're going to do in regard to Social Security is two things. We're going to give you a choice. If you want the $8,000 deduction, you can keep that. If you don't want that and you want totally exempt on your Social Security from State income tax, you've got that. Your choice.
Source: 2019 State of the State address to West Virginia legislature Jan 9, 2019

The above quotations are from 2019 Governor's State of the State speeches.
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Page last updated: Feb 16, 2019