CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Two Charleston-area lawmakers say while Governor Jim Justice’s State of the State address was positive, Justice did not focus enough attention on prominent issues facing the state.
Sen. Glenn Jeffries, D-Putnam, and Delegate Larry Rowe, D-Kanawha, were among the legislators who attended Wednesday’s address at the state Capitol.
Jeffries said Justice had a lot of “positive information” on the state’s current condition.
“I still think we have a long way to go. There’s a lot of issues that still need to be taken care of, and I believe that the information that he gave us is that we’ll be able to move forward,” he said.
Jeffries spoke highly of Justice’s support for additional funding for addressing the drug crisis.
For Rowe, who represents eastern Kanawha County, he took Justice’s message as hopeful but lacking specifics about improving the state’s economy.
“I’m reminded of the Reagan campaign whenever they asked are you better off today than you were four or five years ago,” he said. “It’s rough out our way. It’s rough. If we have 22,000 news jobs, that’s good, but we’ve got to get them into southern West Virginia.”
One positive Rowe noted was the governor’s announcement of a ChalleNGe Academy at the former WVU Tech campus in Montgomery, which is in Rowe’s district.
“We have dormitory space there. We have lots of facilities,” he said. “BridgeValley has done a good job of utilizing a number of the buildings, so there is some sense that we’ll have some economic development in Montgomery.”
Jeffries said he wished the governor focused on the state’s population loss during his 90-minute speech.
“We are educating people, we are providing training for people, but we’re not seeing the positions or the jobs come here in order to keep them here,” he said. “What are we doing to be able to keep those people here? That’s one thing I would have liked to have seen him address a little bit more as far as what can we do to bring business in here and to keep these people here.”
The regular legislative session goes through March 7.