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EDITORIAL: Justice has chance to do more than showboat

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel editorial

Surely anyone who begins a speech by announcing he “can’t do anything but tell the truth” understands he has just cued his audience to put up its guard. But Gov. Jim Justice’s spotlight grab Wednesday morning was so dishonest, disingenuous and full of self-serving nonsense that it made his publicity stunt with the dinner platter several weeks ago look like the work of a model statesman.

If half of what Justice said was an accurate reflection of the consequences or content of the budget bill approved by lawmakers, he should have vetoed it.

Of course, it was not; and that is why the governor will “let it go into law,” without putting his name on it. He appears to believe he can have his political cake and eat it, too.

He is correct about one thing: The budget that reached his desk was not perfect. There is work to do. Perhaps Senate Majority Leader Ryan Ferns, R-Ohio, has come up with the right idea in suggesting legislators should be working year-round on the state budget. And perhaps they should start work on Fiscal 2019 very soon.

It would be nice to believe the Mountain State’s governor would be a helpful, productive part of that process. Down-home accent and relatable requests for reading glasses aside, however, Justice just showed us all he is not ready to truly understand most West Virginians well enough to be part of that effort; and he is still more concerned with serving his ego than the people he was elected to lead.

Lawmakers handed Justice a budget designed to avoid placing any more burden on a struggling population than necessary, while giving the governor what he asked for in the form of tax increases to fund road and bridge improvements, and other efforts to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. And, again, he is allowing the budget to become law.

“Traditional” has kept West Virginia dead last, according to Justice; and he uses that as an excuse to behave in a way only the kindest commentators would call nontraditional. He has got an opportunity now to do good work for the state he serves, if he decides to drop the stubborn showboat routine.

Rest assured, governor, voters will welcome the change.

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