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CAPITOL BEAT: Lawmakers react to State of the State address

Thursday marked the first full day of a new legislative session.
Thursday marked the first full day of a new legislative session.(wvva)
Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 9:48 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WVVA) - Thursday marked the first full day of a new legislative session. The Governor submitted his address on paper on Wednesday night due to his ongoing battle with COVID-19.

The big question on Thursday was whether those proposals outlined in his address can be turned into realities with legislative support.

The Governor’s plan calls for a relatively flat budget; the biggest change being a proposed five percent increase for all state employees.

“It seems the Governor’s revenue estimates are underestimated, which gives leave for surpluses and a lot of ability to do supplemental spending along the way,” said Del. Marty Gearheart, 27th Dist.

Those on the Education Committee were especially receptive. Teacher pay has lagged well behind the national average in recent years.

“Thirty-four percent of young people who were teaching have left the state. We need to turn that around. We don’t have enough substitute teachers and bus drivers and we need to address that,” said Del. Ed Evans, 26th Dist.

“We were also considering that before the Governor came up with the five percent above the board increase. It’s a step in the right direction,” said Del. Joe Ellington, 27th Dist.

With the announcement of several new industries across the state, locations in Southern West Virginia were notably absent. But it is not for a lack of trying, explained Del. Christopher Toney, 29th Dist.

“Most of it right now is because we’re not next to the water. Nucor needed to be next to the sea. They needed to bring the infrastructure in through the water. We don’t have that here because we’re not next to the waterways.”

Throughout the session, lawmakers in the Southern half of the state say they plan to work with the newly created Economic Development Office to help with site development and capitalizing on the National Park distinction.

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