CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS) — Governor Jim Justice unveiled his plans for the year during his annual State of the State Address on Wednesday, January 8, 2020.
The annual address kicked-off the 60-day legislative session. Governor Justice touched on a wide range of topics during his speech. He announced legislation to establish a Medicaid Families First Reserve fund. He said the state will provide $150 million to help people on Medicaid receive the services they need.
Governor Justice also talked about the state of road maintenance across West Virginia. While handing lawmakers an orange WVDOH vest, he announced $146.5 million new dollars for additional road repairs. The Governor said this was the busiest year of road maintenance. The Division of Highways completed 27,000 miles-worth of maintenance.
The Governor also included items from his budget. He is proposing $1 million for food banks across the mountain state. He is also calling for $2 million for programs that ensure students have food to take home when they are not in school. Governor Justice is proposing another $3 million to the Bureau of Senior Services to fund the Senior Nutrition Program.
Medal of Honor recipient Woody Williams was in attendance at the State of the State Address. The Governor invited him to speak about the plans to build four more Gold Star Family Memorials around West Virginia.
Not everyone was as optimistic about West Virginia’s future. Democratic lawmakers made a rebuttal after the State of the State Address. Delegate Issac Sponaugle (D-Pendleton) did not agree with the Governor’s statements on the state’s economy.
“West Virginia is hemorrhaging population. We’ve lost almost 60,00 people over the past five years,” Sponaugle said.
Sen. William Ihlenfeld (D-Ohio) wanted the Governor to be more upfront about the issues the state is facing.
“We are hard working, we can deal with that and we would have more respect for the Governor if he would give it to us straight,” Ihlenfeld said.