As a final note on this years legislative session, the good news is the legislature has passed a budget to avoid a government shutdown. This year’s budget bill passed without my support for a number of reasons. First, I felt we still had a small window of opportunity to save our colleges and universities, including Marshall and WVU from the funding cuts they’re now going to experience. Because I still believe that education is now, and should always be a top priority, I co-sponsored an amendment with Delegate Barbara Fleischauer of Monongalia County to increase funding back to a level that only cut the two flagship universities around 4 percent, but the amendment failed. Second, I can’t support subjecting the most vulnerable citizens of our state to an approximate $30 million cut to services for seniors, children, and the disabled by relying on projected income that may or may not become a reality. However, my biggest concern with the bill is the fact that it doesn’t address the gorilla in the room, which is revenue. I feel certain we’ll be back in Charleston in January facing massive budget deficits for fiscal year 2019, starting this whole process over again. There will again be talk of what agencies to cut, and which state employees’ jobs will be lost to see who will flinch first. I seriously doubt many, if any legislators will be willing to address that gorilla in an election year, so on and on we’ll go. For the record, I hope I’m wrong, because I want the best for our state and the people we all represent.
Governor Justice was however able to get some key components of his infrastructure/road repair package passed, which will help repair our crumbling bridges and roads and create construction jobs for thousands of our unemployed workers. Upon passage of a road bond, the funding would then be in place to make many necessary repairs to the roads in Mason, Jackson, and Putnam Counties. I’d encourage you to make me aware of any road in your area that needs attention. Please email or text me a picture of any hazardous condition, so I can make sure the Division of Highways has visual knowledge.
Throughout this entire session, a couple of issues stood out above everything else. People wanted us to pass a budget to avoid a government shutdown with protections for health and senior services. Also, they wanted the legislature to help the state attract jobs for our workforce. Most were open about their willingness to reinstate the food tax if necessary, or a moderate increase to the sales tax as long as it was fair to everyone. These are a few of my thoughts, and I’d like to know yours.
As a side note, I co-sponsored a bill that would limit special session pay to five days. Since the session exceeded that by fifteen days, I’ve decided to donate one third of the excess monies to senior citizen centers in each county of the 13th district, Mason, Jackson, and Putnam Counties.
As your representative, I welcome your thoughts and input on how you think we should move forward. My office number is 304-340-3146, cell number is 304-593-5010, and my email is Scott.Brewer@wvhouse.gov. Thank you for your trust and support.
Delegate Scott Brewer
Scott Brewer (D-New Haven) represents the 13th District in the West Virginia House of Delegates.