CHARLESTON – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, today disputed Governor Jim Justice’s statement that reporting General Revenue numbers was ‘unprecedented,’ and offered a solution to the Governor’s Office to avoid this perceived injustice in the future.
On June 3, the Senate Finance Committee released its monthly General Revenue Estimates and Bulletin, a document the Committee has prepared for members and distributed since Senator Blair became Finance Committee Chairman. In a press conference on June 10, Governor Justice said, “… but in addition to all that, unprecedented, what’d they do? They released our revenue numbers. When has that ever been done before? It’s just … It’s just petty. It’s just petty. That’s all there is to it.”
Senator Blair said that providing all members of the Senate with updated General Revenue estimates monthly has been a priority of his since he became Chairman. In addition, as Finance Chairman, he has regularly announced these numbers from the floor of the Senate, as he did on Sunday, June 2, when he provided all members a copy of the Committee’s revenue report.
“I find it funny that the Governor seems to be so upset about this now, when it never seemed to bother him any of the other months we’ve done it,” Senator Blair said. “Had he been paying attention to the Senate’s floor session last week, he would have heard me announce those exact numbers. It wouldn’t have been a surprise.”
In addition to May’s General Revenue Report, the April numbers were available on the Senate Finance Committee’s website on May 1, and the March numbers were distributed to members and to media on April 4 – five days before the Governor’s release.
“If the Governor – when he does come to work – wants to call me petty for updating the members of the Senate and the public about their tax dollars in a timely fashion, so be it,” Senator Blair said. “For him to call this information ‘our’ revenue numbers tells you everything you need to know: It’s all about Governor Jim Justice.”
“I have a suggestion for the Governor, since he believes he has a right to hand out public information only when it makes him look good,” Senator Blair continued. “The General Revenue numbers are updated daily. Your office is free to release them at any time. Perhaps your office should work a little harder to inform the public about basic information and a little less on staged events, and you could get them into the hands of the public and media right away. What is it really about, the public’s right to know or you? Prove it next month. My Committee will never apologize for doing its job well and for being open and transparent about our citizens’ dollars.”
The Senate Finance Committee website has previous issues of the Budget Bulletin and Monthly General Revenue reports. You can view them here: http://www.wvlegislature.gov/committees/senate/SenateCommittee.cfm?Chart=fin.