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NAME: Jim Justice
CANDIDATE FOR: West Virginia Governor
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.justiceforwv.com
HOME CITY: Lewisburg
HOME COUNTY: Greenbrier
BIOGRAPHY: Jim Justice currently serves as the 36th Governor of West Virginia. A native of Raleigh County, he obtained an undergraduate and graduate degree from Marshall University in Huntington, WV. Before being elected Governor, Jim Justice was a job creator serving as the president and CEO of 102 different companies and employing thousands of West Virginians. Learn more at www.justiceforwv.com.
Questions from the West Virginia League of Women Voters:
1. With the decline in the extraction industries in West Virginia, what do you think should be done to diversify the state’s economy?
Our energy resources produced affordable, dependable energy for our people and stable, high-paying jobs for our state. During my term, West Virginia welcomed job growth from companies like Toyota, Facebook, Pietro Fiorentini, Northrup Grumman, Proctor & Gamble, Pratt and Whitney, Hyperloop One, to name a few. I work every day to attract a diversity of jobs to West Virginia.
2. Do you support recent weakening of EPA regulations concerning air and water quality? Why or why not?
West Virginia's energy policy must balance environmental protection with economic growth in order to encourage innovation, discovery, and prosperity. As Governor, I have shown a commitment to ensuring that we are good stewards of our environment while supporting prosperity and growth for West Virginians.
3. What role do you see for state government in reversing West Virginia’s population
As your governor, I work every day to attract more people, more jobs, and more opportunities to West Virginia. West Virginia is growing as we’ve never seen before, things are beginning to turn around, this is just the beginning, and I recognize we have more work to do. I am committed to getting the job done.
Additional questions from The Herald-Dispatch:
4. The state’s foster care system struggles to care for the 7,000 plus children who are now in it. Some action has been taken in recent months, but what further action do you think might be necessary?
I'm proud to have worked with our legislative leaders to address the needs of our state's foster care system this year. This week, I signed House Bill 4092, which will provide $16.9 million for increased payments for families who take in challenging youth as well as improved financial support for foster parents, kinship families, and foster grandparents.
5. There have been several attempts to reduce taxes on business in the state, including one failed in this past legislative session. Is it wise to keep pursuing tax breaks for business, at the possible expense of residential taxpayers? Do you think the state’s tax structure needs an overhaul?
I support tax rates that are fair for our citizens and businesses. I have publicly stated that I support the repeal of the manufacturing and machinery tax. I support responsible tax reform, but cannot support any action that results in lower wages, reduces the quality of life, and harms local schools and communities.
6. Do you think the educational reform bill passed in 2019 is working/will be effective?
I signed into law the comprehensive education reform bill, and I have shown my commitment to our teachers by leading the effort for the largest back to back pay raises for teachers in the history of West Virginia. I believe the changes will be effective, but we need time to implement and evaluate changes made by the educational reform legislation.
7. How would you describe efforts so far to add more support staff in the state’s schools to help children in troubled homes?
I signed an education reform bill that provides $30.5 million for much-needed support services such as social workers, psychologists, and counselors for our schools. I support additional funding to provide our educators and school staff with training to help deal with children who come from homes where drugs and addiction are an issue.
8. What can the state government do to improve workforce development in West Virginia?
I signed into law the West Virginia Invests bill, which provides free community college to West Virginians. This program will provide for workforce development in much-needed areas like manufacturing, computer science, culinary arts, accounting, construction skills, and so many more career options.
9. West Virginia has been especially hard hit by the opioid abuse epidemic. What do you see as the role of the legislature in addressing this crisis?
I created the Jobs & Hope West Virginia Program, which offers support through a statewide collaboration of agencies that provide recovery, rehabilitation, and job training to those seeking to treat their addiction and transition into secure meaningful employment. It has become a model recognized nationally for its great success.
10. How would you improve the state’s access to broadband internet?
I recently announced plans for a significant broadband infrastructure project in West Virginia through collaboration with Facebook. The State plans to maximize the benefit of this advanced internet infrastructure by using excess bandwidth on the fiber to expand connectivity into West Virginia communities. I've worked with West Virginia's congressional delegation and private partners to improve broadband connectivity in West Virginia.
NEW QUESTIONS FOR THE GENERAL ELECTION
11. What changes would you recommend for responding to any future state emergencies such as COVID-19 which would increase overall preparedness and assist those affected by the emergency?
Under my leadership, West Virginia’s COVID-19 numbers have been among the best in the nation. We outperformed the national average, as well as all the rates of our surrounding states. Dr. Deborah Birx, the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said, “West Virginia got it right,” praising my leadership and the state’s coronavirus response.
12. How would you prioritize using the funds provided to West Virginia by the CARES Act and other COVID-19 relief funds?
As Governor, I have used West Virginia's CARES Act funding to care for West Virginians during these challenging times. We've spent millions on unemployment payments, grants to small businesses and job creators, providing food distribution points for seniors and school children, securing safe schools with protective gear and masks, and reimbursing COVID-19 expenses for our counties and municipalities.
13. Lack of broadband access limits employment and educational opportunities in many parts of West Virginia. What should be done to make broadband available statewide?
I recently announced plans for a significant broadband infrastructure project in West Virginia through collaboration with Facebook. The State plans to maximize the benefit of this advanced internet infrastructure by using excess bandwidth on the fiber to expand connectivity into West Virginia communities. I've worked with West Virginia's congressional delegation and private partners to improve broadband connectivity in West Virginia
14. What do you hope to accomplish as Governor?
We're turning West Virginia's economy around, and we're investing in our roads and schools. There is still work to do, and I'm just getting started because I want jobs, opportunity, and hope for all West Virginians. There are challenges ahead and more work, and I am focused every day on building on the successes we've achieved during my first term.
15. What experience, training or education do you have that would make you an effective Governor?
I'm driven by my love of West Virginia and a lifetime of experience as a businessman and job creator to see West Virginia be the best. Serving as Governor is my most incredible honor, but before that, I led over 100 companies, created jobs and employed thousands of people, and volunteered in our communities to help hardworking West Virginians.