CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Leadership of the House of Delegates today criticized Gov. Jim Justice for calling a special legislative session but failing to have its key bills ready for consideration.
“The Governor knew the votes were not there to pass his tax increases, and that calling this special session today was premature,” said House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha. “Now we’re here in Charleston wasting $35,000 a day and don’t even have the key bill we need to consider.
“As we gaveled in this morning, we still had not received the Governor’s main tax increase bill – the first item on his special session proclamation – which he had claimed was widely supported by the Senate and key industry groups,” Speaker Armstead said. “Now we learn the Governor is still in back-room negotiations to come up with key provisions of this bill, all the while keeping all 134 members of the Legislature here at the expense of the taxpayers.”
“If there’s one thing we know taxpayers hate, it’s seeing the Legislature sitting around wasting time in special session,” said Majority Leader Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan. “This Governor campaigned on limiting the time we could spend in special session, and now we’re here in Charleston sitting on our hands because he hasn’t even submitted the key bill we’re supposed to consider.”
“This is what happens when you don’t listen to people or consider all sides in a negotiation,” said House Finance Committee Chairman Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha. “We’ve wanted to talk about these items over the last couple of weeks, but the Governor shut the door in our faces. Now he’s called us back into session, and we learn there are still issues to work out. This is a colossal waste of time and taxpayer money.”
In addition to not receiving the main tax increase bill the Governor had negotiated with the Senate, the House has also learned there are technical issues with the roads and teacher pay raise bills that need to be fixed.
“We have heard that the Division of Highways needs the Legislature to fix language in one of the bills affecting them, and that there are technical issues with the teacher pay raise bill,” Speaker Armstead said.
“The House of Delegates was already strongly opposed to the issues to be brought up in this special session, and felt it was waste of time and taxpayer money to begin with,” Speaker Armstead said. “Forcing us to waste even more time while issues are ironed out behind the scenes is simply inexcusable, and I’m sorry the taxpayers of this state have to pay for this administration’s incompetence.”