CHARLESTON – Senate President Mitch Carmichael today denounced Governor Jim Justice’s claim that the Senate chose to “reward themselves” by funding “gold-plated toilets” over drug treatment centers.
The Senate this week began renovation of eight restrooms throughout their offices in the Capitol’s main building and West Wing. The primary purpose for the renovations are to bring the public restrooms, which have not been remodeled since the Capitol opened in 1932, into full compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The work was originally approved in 2009 by then-Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin. The money for these renovations has been set aside since that time. The plans for the upgrades have been vetted and approved by the Capitol Building Commission to ensure the changes reflect the integrity of the original architecture of the building. In total, the cost to overhaul the eight restrooms is $860,000.
“I think the audacity for the Governor to be so crass and callous about desperately needed renovations to the people’s house is simply beneath the kind of person we expect to lead this state,” Senate President Mitch Carmichael said. “If the Governor finds it so deeply offensive that the Senate would choose to spend its responsibly managed operations budget on making our State Capitol more accessible to West Virginians with disabilities, I’m proud to be the person who offended him.”
Additionally, to say the Senate chose to place the needs of its members and private bathrooms over substance abuse treatment programs is wholly incorrect, Carmichael said. During the regular session, the Legislature passed a bill that transferred $22 million to create new substance abuse treatment beds and facilities across the state. House Bill 2428, creating the Ryan Brown Addiction Prevention and Recovery Fund, can use state appropriations, federal grants, and private funds to support new treatment and recovery centers.
“I’m really disappointed that after spending literally months working cooperatively with the Governor to help achieve portions of his platform that he chooses to thank the Senate’s efforts in this way,” Senate President Carmichael said. “The people of West Virginia deserve better. I don’t believe anybody who owes this state $4.5 million in unpaid taxes is in a position to tell a legislative body that has responsibly managed its own budget for decades – and has given back several million dollars to the state’s General Revenue Fund – how to spend a single penny.”