Tourism leaders and Governor Jim Justice were hoping for nearly 6 million more dollars to promote state tourism and business in the coming year. But that money failed to make the final budget, and there is great disappointment.
“West Virginia’s a gorgeous state, blessed with natural resources, blessed with great convention centers. But, we need to get the word out. It’s not ‘If you build it they will come,’ we need to tell them about it,” said Alisa Bailey, Charleston, Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Also failing to make the final budget, a 2-percent pay raise for all public school teachers.
“The most important centerpiece to economic development is a strong and great education system. And you can’t have that, when you are not attracting people into the system, into the system to teach our students,” said Dale Lee, West Virginia Education Association.
There was also an effort to increase the state’s historic tax credits, so that developers would have more incentive to revitalize vacant buildings, and rebuild struggling neighborhoods. It failed too.
“Well the economic part is what I’m attracted to. To bring someone back in and put them into a building and give them opportunity and assistance to put that building back into use is the greatest opportunity we have,” said Del. Andrew Robinson, (D) Kanawha.
Efforts to levy sales taxes on cell phone use; and on gym memberships also failed at the 11th hour.
“Advocates for many of these causes are disappointed but say they’ll be back to fight again for these issues in next year’s legislative session,” said Mark Curtis, 59 News Chief Political Reporter.