Senator Randy Smith, R-Tucker, released the following statement about Governor Justice’s decision to terminate Department of Transportation Secretary Tom Smith. Senator Smith was the lead sponsor of SB 522, which creates a Special Road Repair Fund of $80 million to be used for the sole purpose of repairs to non-federal aid eligible roads.
“I’m disappointed to see that Tom Smith seems to be the scapegoat for unfulfilled promises by Governor Justice to take care of the terrible condition of West Virginia’s roads. When he aggressively pushed his road bond campaign in 2017, thousands of West Virginians were sold on the concept that these bonds – which would obligate the state to up to 25 years of new debt – would free up the necessary State Road Fund money to take care of our secondary roads. It’s painfully obvious that didn’t happen. On Wednesday, the Governor plans to announce a plan to ‘significantly accelerate repairs and maintenance’ for secondary roads. If this big announcement is to use road bond funds to fill potholes, that’s not what those bonds were intended to be used for and that’s not what the citizens of this state were sold. It’s absolutely irresponsible to use the public’s money to pay 25-year notes on pothole repair.
For three years, the Governor didn’t provide Tom Smith with the avenues he needed to fix this problem. Only when others came up with ideas and legislation to fix the problem with real solutions did the Governor feel compelled to act. I’m grateful to the Senators and Delegates who refused to sit by and let this problem go on one day more.”