Lawmakers approve transfer of $ 150 million for road maintenance
Lawmakers in West Virginia have approved the transfer of $ 150 million to support road maintenance work statewide.
The approval took place in a brief special session today at the State Capitol. The session coincided with interim legislative meetings.
Lawmakers also approved the allocation of federal aid to the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health and Human Resources. Lawmakers expect to return to a special session, possibly in September, to allocate more federal aid to the state and work on the redistribution.
The additional money for highways, which is transferred from the state general revenue fund, has received wide approval in both the Senate and the House of Delegates.
Senators spent the addition 29-0 with five absences. Delegates passed it 91-5 with four absences.
Transportation Secretary Byrd White earlier told lawmakers the money would go to 400 projects across 55 counties. As examples, he described some bridge projects, repairing slips on bus routes or repairing slips on commercial routes. The heads of state described 742 miles in total of paving.
Speaking on MetroNews’ “Talkline” today, House Speaker Roger Hanshaw said he supported the “100 percent” allocation.
“I think for two generations now we’ve gone for neglected and deferred maintenance on our roads and highways,” said Hanshaw, R-Clay.
“Whenever we are able to devote resources to strengthening, preserving, consolidating and even expanding infrastructure in West Virginia, we must do so. “
– MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) June 7, 2021
Gov. Jim Justice has proposed spending more money on highways as it becomes clearer the state government will end the fiscal year with more money than expected.
The governor predicts that the state budget will be $ 400 million ahead of annual estimates by the end of the fiscal year. The allocation of some of that money to road maintenance will now be reduced by $ 150 million.
There was no real debate on the priority in the Senate.
Delegates debated the idea for some time, with delegate Marty Gearheart saying he supported investments in roads but also wanted to watch out for government spending.
“I really believe we need to improve our roads here, but it’s kind of weird that the money we have is exactly how much the highways have decided they need,” said Gearheart, R-Mercer.
“I think we have to keep improving the roads, and I think we have to do it in a thoughtful way as opposed to ‘Dude, we’ve got the money; let’s spend it on the roads.
Other delegates like Marshall County Democrat Lisa Zukoff said they support anything that can be done to improve West Virginia’s roads. Zukoff, like other delegates, just wished there were more for his district.
“It’s essential for the people who live in my district and they want money to repair the roads,” she said.