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Northern WV lawmakers react to Justice’s plans

By DAVID BEARD

The Dominion Post

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Following Gov. Jim Justice’s State of the State address Wednesday evening, a number of local legislators offered their thoughts on his proposals.

Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer, D-Monongalia 

“I think there was a lot that was charming or endearing.” It was more entertaining that one from the previous governor, but it comes down to the budget numbers, like any speech. “We’re going to have to look at the details.”

His $8-per-person statewide road fee might help offset some southern county complaints about raising the turnpike toll.

“The roads are the biggest issue in our area and he offered some solutions. They’re not painless. I’m looking forward to hearing from people in Mon County to see what they think, because I’m going to listen to that.”

Delegate Cindy Frich, R-Monongalia 

“I was hoping to have more help from the governor in identifying where we could cut. So I’m really disappointed he only identified $30 million in cuts. I’m glad he’s appointing a ‘waste czar.’ ” But the information the czar gathers won’t be available for this budget.

She’s pleased he plans to trim education bureaucracy.

However, “That was a lot of tax increases. … That’s a lot for a Republican legislature to swallow in all frankness.” He faces an uphill battle. She wishes he had done more to identify agency cuts.

There might be an interest in his plan to eliminate the personal income tax, but didn’t offer enough on how it would be replaced.

Delegate Rodney Pyles, D-Monongalia 

“I think I have to reserve judgment on a lot of those things until I get a look at some of the numbers.” Justice’s speech didn’t offer details on how much money his tax hikes would raise.

His DMV fee hike proposal only referred to Class A vehicles, not heavy trucks that put wear on the roads. “I actually introduced a bill to increase the fees on some of those heavier vehicles. I’d like to see what he would say” on proportional fee hikes.

Delegate Amy Summers, R-Taylor 

“I did really enjoy his speech. I feel like he has a fresh vision for West Virginia – new ideas, new ways of thinking. [But] $450 million in tax hikes, that’s a lot, especially for a Republican Legislature.”

She’d hoped he would go more into his proposals to trim Department of Education bureaucracy. “We’ll have to look at the details in the bill and come up with our response to that.”

Delegate Terri Sypolt, R-Preston 

“I really like the idea he at least had a plan. I’m not sure how everybody’s going to react to that plan. But a least he stepped forward with not only knowing what the problems are, but what he thought were good solutions.”

Are they palatable? “I don’t know. I’ll have to see what the people back home thought of it. I’m here to represent them.”

Sen. Randy Smith, R-Tucker 

“He didn’t cover a whole lot of cuts. I was a little disappointed in the cuts.”

The tiered severance tax proposal was interesting, however.

“It was no doubt the most unique and interesting State of the State speech I’ve heard since I’ve been down here. … We’ll just have to absorb it and think about it. He’s right; we are in dire need on a lot of things. It wasn’t what I was expecting from him after his campaign.”

Sen. Dave Sypolt, R-Preston 

“After he had a strong campaign of no new taxes, now he’s coming out with a pretty big revenue measure – several of them.”

He will give Justice credit for putting his highways bond before the voters. “There’s no better way to test your theory than to see if the voters will support it at the polls.”

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