CHARLESTON – Senate Majority Leader Ryan Ferns, R-Ohio, today proposed an amendment to Senate Bill 484, the bill submitted by Governor Jim Justice to “stabilize” the budget for Fiscal Year 2018 through hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue increases. The amendment was based upon the Governor’s most recent version of his “whiteboard” plan, which he presented to the public on February 27 and clarified in a March 16 letter to the Speaker of the House and Senate President.
Despite multiple reports of new, revised, and updated revenue-generating measures, Governor Justice failed to submit any other bill to be introduced for consideration. Therefore, the Senate had no choice but to give full consideration to the only revenue measures the Governor had actually proposed.
Governor Justice’s plan failed on a unanimous vote.
“While today on the floor, Senate Democrats repeatedly talked about the Governor’s new plan, the simple fact is that the Governor has never submitted a new plan to the Legislature,” Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, said. “Simply repeating thoughts over and over again doesn’t make them legally binding, or even actionable. We are only able to work with the actual bills we have, not the bills the Governor has in his mind.”
Last week, Senate President Carmichael and House Speaker Tim Armstead asked the Governor to provide an updated revenue estimate after being provided with more than two dozen changes. That revenue estimate has yet to be provided, and no proposals for generating the revenue for these changes were submitted.
“I would encourage Governor Justice – after seeing today that even members of his own party in the Senate cannot bear to attach their names to his only submitted tax increase proposal – to provide an accurate, realistic revenue estimate and a feasible plan for addressing this budget crisis that does what he promised the voters of this state it would do: Not increase the burden on citizens,” Senate President Carmichael said.