KEYSER - Calling the upcoming “Roads to Prosperity” special election “the single most important vote in the state of West Virginia,” Gov. Jim Justice told the crowd gathered in the Davis Conference Center Tuesday morning that West Virginia's future depends on upgrading the state's highway system.
By Liz Beavers
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - Calling the upcoming “Roads to Prosperity” special election “the single most important vote in the state of West Virginia,” Gov. Jim Justice told the crowd gathered in the Davis Conference Center Tuesday morning that West Virginia’s future depends on upgrading the state’s highway system.
Justice spent over an hour talking with the crowd as part of his statewide tour in support of the Oct. 7 election which will approve or deny the sale of billions of dollars in bonds to fund a massive push to upgrade the state’s roadways.
He began by emphasizing that the funding for the proposed work is already in place and passage of the referendum would not create any additional taxes. He called the claims by opponents that approval of the work would take additional money out of taxpayers’ pockets “hocus pocus,” saying the idea “is wrong. It’s absolutely not true.
“All of the funding is already in place.”
The current state of West Virginia’s highways is dire, he told the crowd, and if the highways package is not approved, “you may as well nominate somebody here to be the last person to leave West Virginia and turn out the lights.”
During the informal town hall meeting, two areas were emphasized as beneficiaries of an updated highway system - jobs and education.
Noting that, by not working to improve highways in the past, West Virginia “has almost made ourselves non-accessible,” the Governor said better highways will help bring more business and industries and, therefore, more jobs.
He also noted that the majority of the 48,000 jobs predicted to be created by the planned roadwork if the referendum passes will go to West Virginians.
The reality of it is, however, that there may be more jobs than West Virginia can fill.
“Will West Virginia get all the jobs? I’d love it. I really would,” he said.
As for the state’s public and higher education benefits, Justice touched upon some students’ difficulty in getting to school safely due to the poor condition of the roads in their counties.
“If you don’t think about anything but the safety of our kids,” you’ll vote for this, he said.
Justice likened the state’s current need to repair its infrastructure to a house with a leaky roof.
“If you have a leak in your roof, you can borrow the money to fix the leak, but if you don’t, what’s going to happen?”
The “Roads to Prosperity” election is Saturday, Oct. 7.