CHARLESTON, W.Va. – House Speaker Tim Armstead issued the following statement after Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed House Bill 101, the budget bill:
“I’m saddened by the governor’s veto today. His action leaves hundreds of thousands of state employees, retirees, PROMISE scholars and health insurance recipients in limbo and afraid about whether their paychecks, pensions, health benefits or scholarships will be available after July 1.
“This veto strikes down the plan the majority of the people's elected representatives have adopted.
“Twice this year the Governor has submitted budget proposals that could only be balanced with significant tax increases – proposals that failed to gain support of even his own party. Now the Tomblin administration has rejected efforts to pass a reasonable alternative.
“In the March extended session, lawmakers were ready to pass a budget that was balanced without tax increases, only to have the administration drop another $92 million shortfall in our laps at the last minute. Now, after a special session in which his tax increases again failed to gain enough support to pass, the governor would prefer we go back and seek even greater tax hikes than the ones rejected.
“The Governor was presented a balanced budget passed by a majority of the people's elected representatives. He has chosen to reject that budget and, in doing so, bears the responsibility to not only put forward an alternative, but to work to gain support within his own party to pass it.
“From day one, the Governor was aware that there is significant opposition in both parties within the House of Delegates to his original plan to pass one of the biggest tax increases in our state's history. When House leadership agreed to meet him part way and put his cigarette tax proposal before the House, it was my understanding that we would each seek support within our own respective parties to adopt it. The majority of the Republican caucus supported the measure. The Governor did little to gain support within his own party and only one Democrat supported it. It is disappointing that, after failing to deliver any real support within this own party for his original plan, the Governor wants to blame the House for failing to pass his proposals.
“I must respectfully remind the Governor that the proposal to raise the cigarette tax was his idea, not the Republicans’ proposal. He now is seeking an even larger tax increase and I believe there will be even less support for this proposal within the House Republican caucus than there was for his previous tax proposal.
“We will continue working together to do all we can to pass a balanced budget and avoid an interruption in essential government services. However, if the Governor believes his most recent proposal is the right direction, I can only assume that he will be a more active participant in gaining Democrat support for it than he has been in the past. I say that not to cast blame for what has taken place to date, but to assure the Governor that his new proposal has little or no chance of being adopted unless he is able to deliver the support of his own party in the House to support it.”