And I prayed a lot. And I truly give the good Lord the credit for all the good ideas, and I'll take the credit for the bad ones. But 23 months later, we're here today, there's been lots and lots and lots of hard work. Didn't have anywhere to go. Had to cut. Had to cut to balance the budget.
Well, we haven't had any cut budgets recently, and we're not going to have one today either. Today, we have things that are so good, so pluses. No new taxes. Did you hear that? No new taxes.
You're going to see a budget that is increased less than the rate of inflation, a budget that is increasing significantly less than the economic growth of our state. And you're able to announce--the biggest in the State's history--a surplus bigger than we've ever had before.
Why don't we some way, somehow, let our people that are struggling on drugs beyond belief go get treatment for free, provided that they'll come out of treatment and go into some level of training and provided they'll take constant drug tests?
If I'm an addict, and I go to treatment and I get better and then I go into some level of training and I get a certificate, that I will be able to take that to a court and get immediate expungement of a misdemeanor that I have. Not felonies, but a misdemeanor.
It's going to take some money to do this. Not all the money in the world.
The "J" is going to stand for "jobs." The "I" is going to be "in." The "M" is going to be "making." And the little apostrophe is upside down, and we twisted it around to make a "U." "Succeed." Now, looks a little funny, doesn't it? But it looks pretty much like I'd probably write.
But here's what I think we need to do: I think our best alternative today is the adult training in the education department. And here's the problem: Nobody's really going today. The reason nobody's really going is it's not real training that they can go get a real job. But what I'm going to ask you for is $10,000,000 for staffing and replacement and maintenance of equipment at the training centers, at the vo-tech centers.
I want everyone here to understand -- I am adamantly, adamantly, etched in stone, adamantly against recreational marijuana.
Now, we have decided to invest. We got rid of A through F. We absolutely got rid of so much of the ridiculous testing, and we put control back in the local hands as much as we can.
We absolutely gave a 5% teacher's pay raise, and we ended up giving a 5% across-the-board pay raise to all State employees. We did change our image. We've still got a long ways to go, but we did change it.
In regard to PEIA, [the Public Employees Insurance Agency], I promised that we would put $50,000,000 in PEIA one year, and $100,000,000 total. Well, we've got enough surplus dollars, we could put $100,000,000 into PEIA right now. But today, PEIA does not need any true-up moneys. Putting $100,000,000 into PEIA is a giant first step. And we can do that, and that is exactly what we're going to do.
It's just absolutely a cash register. We put the money in, it comes flying right back at us. We seeing this every month in our surpluses. This is the state that ought to be the number one state in the nation as far as tourism.
As far as our DNR efforts we've made, you know, we have reestablished an Elk herd in West Virginia; we're extending deer seasons. We're doing so many things with our trout and our streams, and we're exposing this state in so many ways, it's unbelievable.
There's absolutely so much interest in West Virginia. We have so many possibilities for manufacturing and natural gas hub and expansion of our coal industry and on and on and on, tourism through the roof, and so many different things.
Think about the Mountaineer Challenge Academy [a National Guard residential program for earning high school diplomas]. Think about young men and women that are just absolutely lost. Last year, they're going to have above a 90% graduation rate. And those people are on their way.
Now, let me jump to the veterans. Our veterans, we owe all to. We all know that. We are able to exempt their retirement. Good stuff. There's a few other things that we're able to do right now that you'll see in the budget, good stuff.
But I can tell you just this: For any of us here that think that we don't owe every single thing that we have to our vets, we're just plain wrong.
The above quotations are from 2019 Governor's State of the State speeches.
Click here for other excerpts from 2019 Governor's State of the State speeches.
Click here for other excerpts by Jim Justice.
Click here for other excerpts by other Governors.
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