CHARLESTON, W.Va. – House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, today issued the following statement in response to Governor Jim Justice’s order to light the emergency lantern on the state Capitol in order to pressure the Legislature to pass his tax increase proposals.
“Last year, when 23 of our fellow West Virginians died and thousands were left homeless in one of our state’s greatest tragedies – including many of the people I represent – the light on the top of our Capitol dome was turned on out of respect to our affected citizens,” Speaker Armstead said. “That light had meaning to those of us affected by the flood, it showed the state stood with us in our time of tragedy.
“Today, with the same immature and cavalier attitude he has displayed almost every day since becoming Governor, Jim Justice has belittled and made a joke of a symbol that should not be politicized,” Speaker Armstead said. “The Governor owes those affected by tragedies an apology. He owes the people of West Virginia an apology.
“It’s time for Jim Justice to decide whether he will finally take seriously the sacred job with which the people of West Virginia have entrusted him, or if he will simply continue to treat the people and their elected representatives with disrespect,” Speaker Armstead said. “The Governor’s stunt relating to the dome shows how little respect he has for the people of our state. His threat to shut down our government if he doesn’t get his way is also just the latest example of this disrespect.
“The people of West Virginia expect better from their Governor,” Speaker Armstead said. “Bullying isn’t leadership. Building consensus around the right plan for our state is leadership. The Legislature will show that leadership, and we hope the Governor will start doing so as well.”
Speaker Armstead also countered the Governor’s statements regarding locking people in a room in the Governor’s Office beginning at 9 a.m. tomorrow to hash out a budget agreement, saying the House is already well on its way to considering and passing the legislation needed to balance the budget.
“The Governor has changed his original proposals offered during the State of the State, but only today, on the 42nd day of the legislative session – and seven days after the deadline to introduce bills in the House – has he provided the details of his updated proposals,” Speaker Armstead said. “The House is working diligently this week to pass the legislation needed to balance our budget in a way that controls government spending and gets this state on a path to live within its means.
“With a key deadline to get bills passed out of the House looming next Wednesday, the people of our state don’t have time for political stunts,” Speaker Armstead said. “If the Governor wants to work with us to solve this problem in a responsible and productive manner, we remain willing to work with him. But the clock is ticking and we don’t have time to play games.
“This Legislature is working night-and-day to get a budget passed in record time, and we are committed to delivering – and believe we will have – a balanced budget sent to the Governor’s desk before the final day of our session.”