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Legislative leaders criticize Gov. Justice for "absenteeism"

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice came under fire Thursday after the latest firing within his administration and the ongoing struggles with RISE West Virginia. (WCHS/WVAH)

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice came under fire Thursday after the latest firing within his administration and the ongoing struggles with RISE West Virginia.

Thursday morning, Justice requested and received the resignation of Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher, a news release confirmed.

“Governor Justice likes to fire people instead of accepting any blame that his absenteeism keeps him out of touch with what is happening at the Capitol,” Senator Roman Prezioso (D-Marion) said in a release. “Recent news articles have shown that the Governor’s Office was well aware of the issues with RISE WV and flood relief- yet no action was taken until a legislative committee publicly raised concerns.”

On Thursday afternoon, House and Senate Democrat caucus leaders said the governor’s office has been plagued by “dysfunction” and are bringing up everything from the governor’s tax history to hiring and firing decisions within his administration, but the core issue rests with what Democrats are calling “absenteeism”, questioning how much time Justice spends in Charleston working on state government work.

“The Governor’s Office has been plagued by dysfunction,” House Minority Leader Tim Miley (D-Harrison) said in a release. “The Governor has failed to pay his taxes, refused to place his assets into a blind trust and has made several controversial hiring and firing decisions, including the hiring of an EQT board member and media mogul as a part-time minimum wage employee.”

“In life, if you don’t show up to work and pay your bills or taxes, then you're called a deadbeat,” Delegate Isaac Sponaugle (D-Pendleton) said in the release. “Currently in West Virginia, you're called Governor.”

Justice responded to those comments, issuing a long statement Thursday night highlighting several achievements ranging from his road bond legislation, to the health of the state’s economy.

Below is Justice’s full statement:

“West Virginians need to ask themselves, “are things better in West Virginia since I took office?” Look at the highways, the revenue numbers, the changes to our education system. This state is on the move like you can’t imagine.

Shame on the lifetime politicians for their mean-spirited remarks calling for my resignation. These political lifers have been there forever, accomplished nothing, and kept us in 50th place.

Since I took office, I turned a $500 million deficit into a revenue surplus, without cutting our budget to the bone. I changed the footprint of education by removing red tape and giving control back to the counties. I proposed and signed into law a 5% across-the-board pay raise for our teachers and state employees. I proposed the Roads to Prosperity Constitutional Amendment, and the people of West Virginia passed it with 73% of the vote. I’ve directed a massive amount of state resources to attack the opioid epidemic. I got our veterans the long overdue state income tax exemption for their retirement, and our correctional officers the pay raise they all deserved.

I want nothing for myself from being Governor. I don’t take a salary or PEIA, I don’t need business connections or the next hot tip. I drive myself everywhere I go, without taking a dime from the state.

Without any question, our state is on the move. We have hope, and we have brighter days ahead. From the moment I took office, I have not stopped working to pull us out of 50th place. Goodness is coming to our state, and I intend to remain in office as your Governor to fulfill my promise to the people of West Virginia.”

Justice has also called for a news conference to discuss the RISE West Virginia for Friday at 9 a.m.

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