CHARLESTON – Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, today disputed Governor Jim Justice’s claim before a crowd in McDowell County that the Legislature “walked away from miners, seniors, the disabled, and vets” as simply false.
On June 15, the Senate passed (30-2) the Tax Reform Act of 2017 and budget bill, Senate Bill 2018 (29-2), which was a full tax reform and budget package that was largely championed by Governor Jim Justice as his plan to put the state on solid financial footing and protect essential services from cuts. The Senate’s tax reform bill would have phased out the income tax on Social Security for individuals with incomes of less than $75,000, exempted military retirement from personal income tax, and authorized rebates of 2016 personal income tax of $150 for individuals with less than $10,000 of income and rebates of $100 for individuals with incomes between $10,000 and $25,000. The Senate’s Budget Bill also included a 2 percent teacher pay raise and $15 million to Governor Justice’s Save Our State Fund.
Ultimately, the full Legislature did not pass the Tax Reform Act of 2017. The compromise budget the Legislature passed placed no additional tax burden on West Virginia’s citizens, and spends approximately $85 million less than the previous year’s budget. It did not include any money to Governor Justice’s Save Our State Fund.
“It’s unfortunate that more than a month after he made the decision to allow a responsible budget become law without his signature, that the Governor still cannot stop blaming others for his failure to lead,” Senate President Mitch Carmichael said. “Rather than constantly complain and whine about what he believes the Legislature failed to do, he should recognize what the Senate did, which was overwhelmingly pass his initiatives. The simple fact he could not get the same initiatives passed in the House of Delegates rests solely at his feet, and not at the feet of the Legislature.
“It is wholly dishonest for Governor Justice to continue to blame the entire Legislature for his inability to lead as the state’s chief executive. Over the last three years, the Legislature has passed significant legislation aimed at helping our state’s coal miners, seniors, disabled, veterans and working families in general. To claim that the Legislature has walked away from these West Virginians is sad and ridiculous. The Governor’s time would be much better spent focusing on his actual responsibilities as the state’s Chief Executive Officer, instead of crying about the Legislature on a daily basis.”