BE IT REMEMBERED
(Introduction Could not hear due to broadcaster on PBS)
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: If you don't want to be here all night, sit down.
They got me wired every way you can wire somebody up, which is good.
You know, the first thing I would tell you, it's a great, great evening in the State of West Virginia. And I bless you in every way, and I thank you in every way for being here.
You know, today is a great day, a great day in our state. You know, before we go any further I would like to recognize my family.
You know, I haven't seen, Jay, you and Catherine since you got here.
But my beautiful wife Cathy, daughter Jill, and her husband Adam, daughter in law Catherine, and our son Jay.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Without going long, you know, I would surely introduce my Cabinet. And I'm just going to say "my Cabinet" without going through everybody.
And now I'd like to move on to our constitutional officers. You know, these people that are sitting over to my left have done something that is unbelievable, in my opinion. They have restored honor and integrity to our Court when the storm was pretty rough.
And so if I can introduce our Chief Justice Tim Armstead, Justice Margaret Workman, Justice Elizabeth Walker, Justice Evan Jenkins, and Justice John Hutchison. I have had the opportunity which is so unbelievably rare it's off the chart I had the opportunity to appoint three of these judges. They're good people. They've done lots and lots and lots of great stuff for our state, as has our other two justices.
And so at the end of the day I salute you. I can never thank you enough. I mean, really and truly, we were in a storm and you're pulling us out of it very proudly. Thank you so much.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Now, because I don't know the seating chart here, our Attorney General is somewhere, Patrick Morrisey. And before I'd have him stand, I'd just like to just say this. You know, our citizens of this state deserve good stuff. One of the things they surely deserve is affordable health care coverage. Which is why today I'm asking the legislature to advance initiative that he has championed, and that is to ensure that the people with preexisting conditions in this state, even though you may have loved Obamacare, or maybe you didn't, surely all of us can agree on one thing, and that is just this. West Virginians should be protected against preexisting conditions.
So please do that. And if Patrick Morrisey can stand, wherever Patrick is over here.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Our Secretary of State Mac Warner is here. And Mac has made a mission to ensure the integrity of West Virginia's elections and to protect them from cybersecurity threats. Mac is a champion at that, and we know that.
So if our Secretary of State Matt Warner could stand, please.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Our Auditor J. B. McCuskey. J.B. has made one thing for sure, and that is us to be transparent, transparent with all the State's finances. We don't need to hide anything. And J.B. secures the fact that we won't do that. So give him a big round of applause.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Commissioner Kent Leonhardt. We have so many potential opportunities within agriculture in this state, and we know it. And he's after it. One thing that Kent is, is he is stick on "on" all the time. And every time I see him he is just striving to do more and more and more. Bring opportunities to our farmers within the state to where we can consume more of their products within our state.
So please give a big round of applause to Kent Leonhardt.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: And our Treasurer John Perdue. John is a friend. He's been a friend a long time. John is the guy that looks after our money. It is hard to believe the magnitude of the money. $13 billion. It's unbelievable. He's done the job forever. He's done a great job. I'm very proud to call him a friend. John?
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Now, I'm looking real hard, and I can't find Craig Blair. But I really wouldn't have been a bit surprised to have seen him here. I mean, he is a tough nut, that's for sure. You know, just like all of us that are exposed all the time to different things. He had a bad, bad traffic accident. He could have no longer been with us. He's a tough guy. And I'm really proud to call him my friend.
And Craig, if you're watching and everything, just know that everybody here just can't wait until you get back. And they're waiting on you. Craig Blair.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: All of those that are either really smart or maybe they just got a little tired or maybe the circumstances or whatever it may be, all of those that have decided not to run for reelection, if you would please stand. I surely would like us all to give you your due and give you a round of thanks and a round of applause for all of the effort that you've made for nothing other than your love for this state. Please stand, all of those.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Well, before I get into all the nitty gritty, I want to just tell you just a little quick story that's more about me. You know, it's easy to figure Jim out. I'm not a politician. I really don't want anything.
Now, I know this is probably not going to be real popular with some, but really it is so easy. It is so easy to just watch me. You know, I do stand like a rock with our president in regard to things that he stands for, like legal and I say legal immigration. I absolutely believe that sanctuary cities do not have a place here in West Virginia, and I hope and pray they never come. I can tell you that without any question whatsoever, I stand with the unborn. I'm a sportsman. I love the outdoors. The second amendment is ingrained in me forevermore. There is no question about it, whether you love me or don't love me. It's just simple fact.
The other thing I would tell you is just this. We had a thing happen within Corrections. And in all honesty, what happened was not good. We had We have had lots and lots and lots of great things going on within Corrections, and we've got a lot of really good people. But I will promise you to God above: On my watch, there is no place for hate and there is no place for antisemitism on my watch
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: so.
So let me show you this. And you're going to say, oh, my gosh, Justice is doing it again. Do you remember this?
Hold on now. I hope it won't slide. And do you remember this?
Let me tell you, the reason I brought these is just this. I gave an inaugural address a long time ago. At that inaugural address, prior to that on Memorial Day, I was at a cemetery for my grandparents in Jesse, West Virginia. A little hillside nothing. And we went to the gravesite, Cathy and I, and we were leaving.
For those of you that have forgotten, there was a lady standing at the bridge. There is guardrail there. She had leaning up against that guardrail several fishing rods, some Carhartt coveralls, some reflector tape Carhartt coveralls. She had absolutely this tackle box and this axe. The little daughter standing beside her didn't know where to turn.
I stopped. I gave her a hundred dollars for that axe and a hundred dollars for this tackle box, and I put them in my car. Everywhere I've gone, even down here tonight, they rode right with me.
Now, I'm telling you, that lady looked at me and she said, "Mister, you'll never know how much I appreciate this, but you have no idea how bad I'm hurting."
Now, let me just say this. When I walked in the door and if I could just drop this, so don't jump when I walked in the door, things were pretty tough. And I'm not patting myself on the back in any way. We've gone through lots and lots of stuff. And I want to say without any question whatsoever, nobody, nobody does anything alone. Sure we've argued from time to time, but you have been great, and you should be very, very proud of what you have accomplished in all honesty. The biggest thing that I cling to is maybe, just maybe, I was maybe the catalyst that brought hope. And that, to me, means everything.
So, before we go any further, let's remember that lady, remember her little daughter, and just remember how good and how strong we are today. You deserve so much credit. I could never thank you enough. And I would say as profoundly as I know how to say, ladies and gentlemen, the state of our state is strong. And it's growing stronger every single day.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Now, imagine. Personal income last year in 2019 grew 3 billion that's with a B $3 billion in this state. Unbelievable. Revenue growth went up $511 million. It's off the chart. Off the chart. The biggest revenue growth surely by far. But in addition to all of that, enough revenue growth that it was one and a half times the previous ten years put together. It's unbelievable.
Now, think about it. Since we've walked in the door we've been able to put $113 million in the Rainy Day Fund. We've put $100 million in PEIA. It's unbelievable. We're going the way we ought to go.
Now, I've got to show you just this. When I walked in the door, I said I was going to take you on a rocket ship ride like that. And we've been on this rocket ship ride. Now, I want you to be really smart. The one thing that I am is a business guy. And I'm gonna tell you nothing that remains on straight up or straight down is healthy.
So at the end of the day now, what I want you to do is change, and I want you to come on this lightning bolt ride with us. Because that's where we will go. We are underfilling and we're building in what should be built in.
So that's why tonight you're gonna see that the budget that I propose to you is very, very conservative. Very conservative. Because nothing goes just like this. That 511 million, where we are today, where we are today with our budget? We're okay. We're not knocking it out of the park in one way, but if you feel if you look at it and you say we're comparing apples to what we did last year and last year was an all time record beyond belief then we are knocking it out of the park.
We still have got a lot of people to help. We're still lots and lots and lots of stuff to do. So, I would say to you, let's take off with the people that may very well be hurting the most.
Our Medicaid fund has grown way beyond belief. We're on a pace to have an excess in the Medicaid fund of $309 million by year end. If we don't watch out, we'll spend it. We'll come up with any way and every way to spend and spend and spend because that's what all of us do.
What I'm proposing tonight is something that is maybe not never done before, but is surely seldom done. I am proposing tonight that I want to announce legislation to establish the Medicaid Families First Reserve Fund. And I want to lock away $150 million to ensure that always those that are the most vulnerable and I have a hard time with that word, my secretary Executive Assistant Pam would tell you that but I want to lock away those dollars to be sure that we will always have vital services for those that are the most exposed and need the most help.
If I could turn the table real quickly to jobs. Jobs in this state are good. There's no question that they're moving in the right direction and they're good. Here's something that I want everyone, just as I did last year, to know. The business inventory and machinery tax is holding us back in some areas. We need to try we need to try to find a solution to where we can either get on a glide path or quickly get on a better glide path to eliminate that tax if we can.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: We have to be careful. There's counties to consider, the school boards, there's people that we absolutely want to protect. We've got to be careful. We've got to be careful with where we are with our general overall finances. We have to be careful and we got to be smart. But I don't want there to be anyone to doubt that I would like it gone. I would like it gone. At least gone in time.
Now, we have 20,000 new jobs today in the State of West Virginia. One of the reasons we have those jobs is a guy sitting behind me that's working that every day, and that is President Carmichael, that came up with the idea, you know, to let our kids go to college for free. It's working. It's one of the ideas that's just working. Today we have an all time high employment. All time. It just gets better and better and better.
Now, Brother Mitch, we've got to have those kids, and you know we've got to have them. We've got to get them trained, and we've got to get them prepared for the workforce. We need more and more and more of them.
The reason If I were to say to you this let's just be fair and be real. What if I were to say to you and this is nowhere in my notes. This is nowhere at all. And normally I wouldn't have any notes unless I was sweating and going to take a long time.
But here's the thing. What if I were to say to you in the State of West Virginia your severance tax dollars are going to be the lowest, the lowest that they've been in the last 25 years. And then I would say to you: How do you think you're doing? Think about it. Think about it. From the standpoint of the general revenue, the percentage of general revenue, we are the lowest in comparison to one another we've been in 25 years. Nowhere on these notes. I just know it. And yet our state is doing better and better and better.
Tell you why. I'll tell you exactly why. We've diversified. We're on the move. We've changed our image. There is all kinds of things happening within the State of West Virginia. Now, do we want to do any and everything we can possibly do to create another coal job? Absolutely. Do we want to do anything and everything we can do to promote more and more gas and everything? Absolutely we do.
With the constraints and remember, I said early on, I'm a sportsman. I love the outdoors more than good sense. The last thing on earth I would ever want to do is harm the water, harm the environment. We've got to be absolutely aware of that all the time.
Now, if, in fact, we have the best unemployment in a decade, there is a big reason for that. And a lot of that reason is up here. And I'm not gonna call names right yet, but I just want you to just listen. Northrop Grumman is adding an initial 500 jobs. Proctor & Gamble is doing all kinds of great stuff. The Great Barrel Company is up and going in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Toyota has done great stuff. Hino is doing great stuff. Mark West is doing unbelievable stuff. Pietro Fiorentini how about that? Did I get that? Pretty close. Infor, and Chemours, and Cornerstone, and Ramaco. Unbelievable what you're doing.
If I could just touch just one second on one of them, Ramaco. Think about this just for a second. All of us think, well, we can't burn anymore coal because the world is rebelling in every way, shape, form and fashion against that. Ramaco would tell you that coal now get this that coal is too expensive to burn. You're wasting an opportunity when you burn it. I thought they were crazy when I was talking about that.
But nevertheless what they're saying is they can make carbon fiber out of coal that is let me get this straight is four times as light as steel and twice as strong. They absolutely have a way to do things with coal that can be an alternative use for coal that it would be so perfect for us it is unbelievable.
WVU right now I am announcing tonight and I'm sure that everyone probably already knows but they're going to develop and open a research facility at WVU to research just this. And not only that, Ramaco is looking at the possibility of bringing one of these plants to southern West Virginia. Imagine that we make
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: imagine this just for a second. Imagine, well, we understand you can do something extra with coal, but how much would you use?
Do you realize that in the State of West Virginia today we're probably on a run rate of West Virginia today of about 82, 85 million tons. Probably a third of that is metallurgical tons. So say we've got 50 million steam coal tons. Do you know how many tons are in America? 700 million. Do you know how many they can use in this process? 125 million tons. It's unbelievable. It's unbelievable.
If in fact it's real, it's unbelievable what the researchers are doing. And they're doing it. They're making it. They're absolutely doing it right now in Wyoming, and they're making it.
So now I'd like with Hino Motors, Steve Stalnaker to stand;
Mark West, Erwin Osleen from Pietro Fiorentini, Max Ambrosi;
Infor, Rhoda Steward;
Chemours and Cornerstone, Ed Sparks and Craig Zoglio how about that? I got that one.
And with Ramaco, Randy Atkins.
And they are everywhere up here. And give them a monstrous round of applause, please.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Okay. Now, if I can switch channels just a little bit and say just this. I believe airports are our heart. They're our heart. There is lots of things that make us really good, but the airports are everything to us.
I've got to brag just a second on an airport that's phenomenal what they're doing. We've put real dollars in Yeager, and they're doing great stuff. We've put real dollars in all kinds of different airports across our state and they're doing great stuff. But there is no place like North Central West Virginia Airport at Bridgeport. It is unbelievable the opportunities and what they're doing.
You know, they brought a presentation in to me and I immediately said: "Go." They took that presentation and hit the ground running in building a new terminal, building another 50 acres onto it.
Now get this. They've got 1200 employees from 22 of our counties up there right now, and they are going to grow and grow and grow and grow. They can't make a place fast enough that they don't have a tenant waiting to go. It's amazing.
Pratt & Whitney just announced a $30 million expansion. They're going to build a new engine I don't know what in the world it does, but it's a new, modern, a futuristic engine that is phenomenal. You know, Bombardier and Mitsubishi and Aurora, they're all just cooking. It's good stuff. It's great stuff.
So if we could now recognize Martin D’Eramo, I believe. David Hinkle, as the county commissioner in Harrison County, and Andy Lang is the mayor of Bridgeport. And, please, they're doing it. Give them a giant round of applause.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: I've got to pass the kudos back behind me again to a fellow, Roger Hanshaw. Roger Hanshaw's team has come up with a concept called Mountain Impact. It's a Mountain Impact Fund. It's basically just this. It is You have a fund that becomes the bank that you can loan money and inspire people to invest within the State of West Virginia and you can give all kinds of great return on their money that they invest, and you can bring money to our state like you can't imagine. It is an ingenious idea, and I absolutely will fully support it.
And, Roger, I thank you for it.
Now, y'all can clap. That's a big thing, guys.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: I've been with our President many times. I'm looking for more and more and more and more jobs. At the end of the day, that's what you elected me for. That's what we're doing. I've been with our President on these occasions that we want to try to attract any federal agency that wants to get out of that craziness in DC and wants to find a good place to come to that has four unbelievable seasons, and absolutely has good people, and is within a rock's throw of DC, and has all the greatness that we have. It's right here waiting on them.
You see, this is true. We have changed ourselves from the state that was backward and having a tough time. Dingy and dark. We've changed ourselves to become the diamond in the rough. The diamond that they thought they missed. And really now they're trying to find us.
Now, let me tell you one more thing. There's a company from Wales. We talked about them before. They're an illumination company. They have a lighting concept that is unbelievable. The amount of energy it uses is almost nothing, and the amount of light that it kicks off? Off the chart. I have worked diligently on this, and I will not stop until we secure that commitment. They're looking at all kinds of different locations all over the country. But I am confident as I can be that we'll be making an announcement within 30 days that you will absolutely love. They're the real deal. And I hope and pray that they're coming.
Now, if I could switch channels one more time and say: Well, what about the roads? Well, the best thing I can tell you about the roads is I was getting my hair cut the other day, and this lady her name is Cannette Kaufmann. She said she turned to me and she said I can't recall if she said it was a brother or a good friend, but Cannette said, "You know, I'm telling you, my brother or this good friend is a guy that loves to be way out in the boondocks." And he said to her, he said, "I'm telling you, I don't know how anybody in this state couldn't be happy today, because they're even driving the roads that I drive on."
Now, if that be the case And so let me say this. And these guys are coming in the door
Y'all hold on just a second. Just one second.
Two hundred eighty pieces of new equipment we have now. 27,000 miles of maintenance they've done. In 18 months, 500 projects and 1100 miles done. We just went through the second round of bonding and we have we have, believe it or not, another $146.5 million that we can just do anything we want with. And we're going to pour more and more and more money into our roads.
Now, what I want you to do, because we've got five guys right up there that bust their chop every day. They stand in the road. And it's dangerous. And they work hard every day. And we have the deputy secretary and the secretary right with them. Jimmy Wriston and Byrd White.
And I want us all to put one of these jackets on and then stand up and applaud them, and it will be something we'll remember forever. And then when you leave, I want the jacket back.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Well, you got to help me well, help me (donning jacket).
All right. Now, I want y'all to know this. That these people got me one that fits. And I also want you to know they're a bunch of smart alecks because it's got 7X on the back of it.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Nevertheless, guys, thank you. God bless you for all you do. Keep doing it.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: You know, at the end of the day, whether we're democrats, independents, republicans, or whatever we may be, we all drive on the roads, don't we? And we all appreciate our roads because they give us the pathways to go where we want to go.
So, again, guys, thank you. Thank you from all of us in every way, shape, form or fashion.
I would like to announce one thing. In our second bond go round, the first letting we're doing right now, and it's just happened, and it is the Inwood bypass. It's from I 81 to Route 51
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: You guys must like that.
And it came in to bid at 27 point 22.7 million, which was $3 million under estimate. So that's good too. Really good.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Now, there is a couple of things, Brother White, that we're that I am ordering you and Brother Jimmy to do, and that's just this. There is going to be a Trump infrastructure program. It's going to happen. There still may be some hacking up and things like that, but it's going to happen. And when it happens, $2 trillion is a lot of money, guys, and we really need to get our fair share. And we will this go round.
So Byrd and Jimmy, I am ordering you to be ready to start work now. Start work right now to where you'll be ready, you'll have dollars for matching, and you'll have so many different things that will give us the opportunity to instantaneously finish Corridor H, instantaneously finish the Coalfields Expressway, and on and on and on.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Now, we've gone through a little quagmire and everything on the MARC Train. We needed to get it done. We needed to have the MARC Train. You know what we did have happen? And Craig, you know, you're not here with us, but you played a big role in it. We had the counties. We had Craig. We had others that are right here. We had many different sources. We had J. B. McCuskey step up to the plate like nobody's business. And then it fell right in my lap from contingency dollars. And I did it. Because it's important. It's really important to that neck of the woods that we absolutely need to do any and everything we always can.
Let me switch channels again to the National Guard. The National Guard and the Challenge Academy stuff that they're doing is off chart. Now, they've graduated 4,663 kids. If you haven't ever been, you need to go. It is amazing. It is truly absolutely amazing. Now, we found enough money and I would like for two people to stand. And I'll get to our general later on but if David Turner and Sara Thomas could stand, these two are two of our graduates two of our new graduates. So give them a phenomenal round of applause.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: We have also now in working with the Guard and in working with our budget in every way, we've now found the dollars without increasing our budget we've now found the dollars to be able to start the Mountaineer Challenge Academy at Montgomery at West Virginia Tech.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Good. Good stuff.
Now, if we could talk about drugs. The very thing that in my opinion if we don't watch out could cannibalize this state. But we're making progress. We're moving in a direction now. And we've still got a long ways to go, no question about that. There is great stuff that's going on in Huntington. There's great stuff that's going on at Marshall. There's great stuff that's going on in all the different areas of our state.
One of the things I brought a thing like this last year called Jim's Dream. We put it up right here, and you were kind enough to fund it and everything, and lo and behold, it's off and going. Just think about this. We launched it in October. We've had 1200 referrals. There is all kinds of stuff that is happening. And it's working.
If you have never been, you should go. You're going to see people that are excited about getting their life back. You're going to see people that are on the track of really doing really great stuff. It's working. You know, it's like a great football team. When you run a play that works, I was always a believer: Keep running the play until the other side took it away from you. It's working.
I was at Camp Dawson not long ago for a graduation. There was six kids there, five guys and one girl. The one female was, you know, a relatively young girl. One of the guys was an older guy. You know, what they had just gotten trained on and just gone through a course on? They had gotten trained to run a grader. Now, one of the guys had been offered a job like two days before that. Another guy had just received his second offer for a job. And those guys and ladies, you know, you can read it all over their face.
There is nothing better there's nothing better than touching a life and helping somebody turn it around. It's good stuff. Really, really good stuff. One of those is here with us, William Phillips. And his transition agent and those transition agents are so vital it is off the chart. And wherever they are, if they would stand, you've got a guy on his way, and you've touched a life like you can't imagine. And before I think he got out of the room, he got his second job offer.
And we congratulate you in every way.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: And Shannon, I hope I said Shannon Carnes, but I can't see very well. So I'm doing the best I can do.
Like I said before, we're making progress. And I'm going to ask you for something. And I'm going to probably say something that some of you are going to say, I wish you wouldn't say it like that. But I don't know any other way to say it. You know, we have too many drugs that are just slipping in here. And people are taking advantage of our kids, and they're taking advantage of our weaknesses. And they come from any and everywhere. And we try. We try to catch them. They usually come through communities that don't have a whole lot of population, because they know you're soft and you can't catch them. You can't do anything to it.
So tonight I am ordering Secretary Jeff Sandy to form a new unit called a Narcotics Intelligence Unit. A new unit at the Fusion Center. It will be a strike force. I'm going to ask you for $1.9 million. And I'm going to ask you to give us that to stop this terrible effort.
And I'm going to ask you in this way. I will promise you promise you that if you are kind enough to give us that opportunity, and I want to say this as sincerely and as forcefully as a human being could ever say it, I want to look right in the camera and tell anybody, anybody, that is trying to come into our state with drugs: We are going to bust your ass. That's all there is to it.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: So I'd say y'all are with me on that, huh?
The IDD waivers. Can you imagine this? Can you imagine those that are having a life that is so difficult, and the caregivers, a life that is so difficult it is unbelievable. There's a 1,060 of them that have been on the wait list for a long time. Some of them four years. Six hundred of them are children. We have now found enough money. Tonight I'm so proud to announce that Secretary Crouch and Secretary Hardy have found a solution, and my budget will contain the funding to eliminate the wait list.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Child welfare is right behind it
Bless you. Bless you.
child welfare is right with it. You know, when you think about a kid, and I have the opportunity when I'm coaching a basketball team to be with a bunch of kids, but I see all kinds of little rascals and everything.
Our little grandson the other day said or Jill said to him, said, "JC, you've been eating the dog food again, haven't you?" He's two years old. And he said, "Nope." And she said, "Now, JC, at our house we tell the truth all the time. Now, you've been eating dog food, haven't you? And he always says "okay" for "yes." And he said, "Okay."
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: And then she said, "Well what did it taste like, JC?" And he said, "Cake."
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Now, there is nothing that is as precious as a kid. There is no way.
We put a bunch of money and a bunch of people to work last year in child welfare. We don't have enough. We don't have enough. We've got a real problem. And we've got to own up to it and step up to the plate and do something about it.
So we're going to, within my budget again, you know, we're going to try to improve child welfare in the State of West Virginia until it is the very best in the country. We're going to hire another 87 people that are going to be out in the field as child welfare people to be able to assist and help us in every way.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Let me say something about Communities In Schools. A lot of you don't have one clue about Communities In Schools. I'm going to tell you that Cathy didn't know much and neither did I. Cathy needed some cause or whatever you want to call it to get really behind it and everything. In Greenbrier County, they had a phenomenal success story with Communities In Schools, but it wasn't linked to the state in any way. Cathy got educated. And then she got behind it. And now it is doing stuff.
And I would say and I'm going to tell you this. This is how I believe our family should be. We should be honest with one another. We should be loving, but we should be honest. And sometimes honesty is not what the other would like to hear. But I'm going to tell you just this. Of every single program that I've been involved in or I've seen, there is nothing working like this. It's unbelievable. Un flat believable.
Today they're in 71 different schools and it is touching 28,000 kids. And you know what the teachers, do you know what absolutely the parents, do you know what the kids, do you know what they are saying? The very most disruptive kid in the classroom is now the model. Because maybe he just needed a toothbrush. Maybe he just needed somebody to just stand and help him. Maybe he needed enough food.
Absolutely it's working beyond belief. And I hope to goodness that every last one of you will get out and see how this program is really kicking it out of the park. It's really, really happening.
Now, we've got to recognize, and I'm very proud to, Kathy Brunty, and she is with us somewhere. And Deidra Crouse is also here. And let me talk a second. Kathy is a teacher at West Side High School in Wyoming County. She had 25 of these kids 25 kids that were struggling. Not 25 naturally just picked out braniacs. Twenty five of these kids were struggling; 25 out of 25 graduated. It's amazing.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Deidra is one of those. And you know what she's on her way to do? To become a nurse. It's amazing.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Good job.
I want to do a little more. We've got too many people out in all across the different regions of our state that are hungry. I want absolutely to commit a million dollars a million dollars to create more food pantries, or be able to buy more food for people that are really out there and really hurting.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: In addition to that, I want to take $2 million, 2 million additional dollars and go to the Department of Education and put that into their Backpack Program and I am not terribly familiar with every one of these, but their Backpack Program will ensure just this. And, gosh, I see it. I see it. Can you just imagine? Can you imagine going home on Friday and know you're going to be hungry? It's tough stuff, guys. It's really tough stuff. If we can't find $2 million to help our kids and help the hungry, then we're not much of us. That's all there is to it.
So anyway, in my budget there is $2 million going to that.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: We all know tourism in the state is really moving. We all know it's doing great stuff. Before I got here, we had four consecutive years of traveler spend declines. Boom, boom boom, boom boom. The lightning bolt going the wrong way.
Chelsea Ruby, wherever she is, is doing an incredible job. And get this number. Get this. Our growth our growth surpassed the national average of growth by 58 percent. Unbelievable. Unbelievable.
Chelsea, where are you?
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: I don't know where she is, but wherever she is, clap for her.
THE COURT: The DNR is doing exciting stuff too. The DNR has been able since 2017 to acquire 78,000 acres of land. Twenty four wildlife management areas have been established. The total from 2001 to 2016 was 30,000. 78,000 last year or since 2017. They stocked 2.7 million trout since 2017. Now surely to goodness y'all can catch a few of them. I mean, for crying out loud.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Now, hunting and fishing licenses are up by 50 percent. Presales doubled. Our Elk herd’s doing great. We spent $60 million in park upgrades. And you know where all of this is tying right back in is tourism, tourism, tourism, tourism, tourism. It's amazing.
So Steve McDaniel, thank you. And I am going to keep moving.
Our petrochemical industry has so many incredible potentials. Austin Caperton is heading up a task force, a downstream task force. It's unbelievable. If you'll just be patient. It is unbelievable what is going to happen to manufacturing in this state. And it's all going to flow not all, but a lot of it is going to flow through the petrochemical side.
We want our oil and gas people to thrive. We want, like I said before, to try any and every way we possibly can to continue to manufacture one additional coal job, one additional gas job. It's happening. It's happening. It's tough. It's dog fight tough. The coal market the thermal market was at $78 a ton and now it's 35. There is no way. We just can't hardly compete. And it's really tough. The metallurgical market was at $210 a ton; today it's 85. It's tough. But we got to keep trying to find solutions and ways to absolutely ensure that our coal miners are going to have their jobs.
Now, one thing now that we've been able to work and compromise on from the gas side that I am absolutely supportive of is that is our low pressure wells, and I believe with all in me that this is a real opportunity for a real bipartisan effort. I believe there is support across the aisle on both sides. And I believe that this is what we need to get behind in an effort to try to plug the old wells and to give people a break in these low pressure wells.
There is something called Virgin Hyperloop. One of my little buddies in my tunnel is out of his mind about Virgin Hyperloop. And so am I. A lot of you wouldn't have any idea what in the world Virgin Hyperloop could possibly be. I didn't know either. But we went to Morgantown, and WVU is reaching out, and we're reaching out in every way, shape, form or fashion, and it's a possibility. It is an absolute possibility.
What it does is just this. There is a tube that is built over land and it is revamping the entire transportation system in any way that we may know it. And you get in a pod in that tube, and you can go in excess of 600 miles an hour where you're going. You can't even feel the ripple of it at all.
I do believe that we are in on the finalists to have that research center at WVU. We have the terrain. We have the willingness from all of our people. I took every secretary head that we had there. We met with them. We went round and round and round with them. I talked to the president since then. And it's possible. It is so phenomenal, it's off the chart. I will do anything and everything I can.
And Jay and Jay is the president. And Jay, if you hear me, know that you've got a governor here that's a big guy, that is absolutely willing to do anything that I possibly can within my power to try to get you here. Because it would be unbelievable.
Now, there is two people from WVU. There is a dean of the West Virginia College of Business and Economics, and there is a lady, Sarah Biller, and she is the executive director of WVU's Vantage Ventures. And the dean is Javier Reyes, I believe now, I'm probably mispronouncing them. But please stand, and let's give them a great big round of applause. They have done unbelievable work on this project.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: I know those chairs are getting hard, but I'm almost done.
I want to talk a second about education. I'm a real believer in this. And the first time you ever saw me, this is exactly what I said. I said we ought to make education our centerpiece. We have in a lot of ways. We've made a real commitment to education. And we've done lots and lots and lots of stuff. And I'm not going to go through all the blow by blow of what we've done, but absolutely we have changed the way the outside world thinks about us and thinks about education. We've got lots more to do. We've got lots and lots and lots more to do.
And to make it better and better and better as we go forward, I hope we can do more and more and more and more. We want to make it better. We want to reward our people better. We want to make it better for our kids. We want to make the scores better. We want every part of it to be better.
So tonight, we have our Teacher of the Year. And, whew, am I going to have a time with this one. Jennifer Schwertfeger. How about that? Jennifer, where are you? Right there.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Jennifer has transformed now get this transformed the way that science is being taught to our kids, and she is transforming the way we think it ought to be taught. She's done an incredible job. And her sponsor is Toyota and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Horace Mann, are with us and the West Virginia Lottery are somewhere. And you've got to give them a big round of applause too.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Now, I'm with the State Police every day. I drive myself, because they don't drive very well.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: And they scare me tee totally to death. And I'm just teasing. They're really good. And it's amazing how dedicated they are and all the great stuff they've done.
You know, you go back to when things were really tough. You didn't have a class a cadet class for four years. And we're about to enter March of 2020 and send our third class into action. Good stuff.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: They do work like you can't imagine. Absolutely. They protect us. And we should respect and love them every single solitary day.
You know, I'd like to talk just a second about our elderly, and in some ways I guess I'm talking about me. You know, but again, I thank you and congratulate you for what you did in removing or in the tiering of removing the income tax, on the state income tax on our Social Security. It was a great move. It's a great move for our elderly.
You know, last year we committed a million dollars to the Bureau of Senior Services. It's not enough money, but it enabled us to purchase a bunch of new vehicles to supply hot meals to the homebound. Again, you know, it's a curse and it's a virtue. You know, I won't give up on trying to care for somebody. I won't. And whether you buy it or not buy it, I'm only here to care. And if you think about our elderly, the people that have been through their life and given us so much it's unbelievable, and maybe there is some and maybe we know there are that are sitting right out there and they'd just love a hot meal. You know, again, is that too much? I mean, is it really too much?
So this year there is $3 million in my budget to buy another 43 vehicles and to supply all kinds more meals to the seniors that are out there that are looking for just a warm meal and a kind voice.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Woody, don't sit down, you know. I don't know where you can stand here.
Let me tell you just this. I can't tell this story enough. But I was in Barboursville with the veterans, and I said, "What would you want if we could do whatever you could do?" And they said we'd like Governor, we'd like our retirement exempt from state income tax. And I said, well, how much would that cost? And they said I said, Is there anybody here that knows? Because we were in session. And nobody really knew. But all of a sudden there is this one guy, who is a really sharp guy, and he stood up and said, Governor, I think it's somewhere between 2.7 and $3.2 million. I couldn't believe it. I could not believe it.
Again, these people have given each and every one of you, and me, every single thing we have in this life. Everything. Everything. I don't care what it is. I don't care if you're going to Wendy's. I don't care what in the world you're doing, we owe every single thing in our life to them. Everything. It's all there is to it. Again, I say it over and over and over. They ask so little and they've given so much. It's unbelievable.
So we came back. And I set it up, and you were kind enough to get behind it, and boom, it was done just that quick. I thank you again. I thank you for all of them. I thank you for me. I thank you for my dad. I thank you for Cathy's dad. I thank you.
Now, in my budget you'll find $5.5 million that's going to the nursing home in Clarksburg. You'll also find that we've been able to purchase more vans to be able to get our veterans to the hospitals. You'll see in my contingency fund I was able because these people stood in the road, they did everything in the world to raise money for the Oceana Memorial Wall. And my dad is on that wall.
So we took a few contingency dollars and we were able to get them over the edge, and their wall is built.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: But let me tell you this. We've got a Metal of Honor recipient. It's unbelievable. You talk about a hero. I mean, you may think you're important. I may think I'm important. We can't hold a candle to this man. And not only is he that, but what he's doing all across this country for our Gold Star families is off the chart.
So I don't know how our thunderous applause could thank him any more, no way could it thank him any more, but please, Woody Williams, stand, and let's absolutely give him the applause that he deserves.
MR. WILLIAMS: Governor, if I may be so bold
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Come on up here. You can come up here by my tackle box.
MR. WILLIAMS: If I may be so bold.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Please.
MR. WILLIAMS: We're going to do a monument on the Capitol grounds that will be two times the size of anybody else's in the country, because we are West Virginia.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Here. You come up here. You come right on up here. Move this out of the way. Come on over here and just talk. They'd rather hear from you than me.
MR. WILLIAMS: We're currently in 45 states 45 states in this country communities, we've lost count of those. But they have put up a Gold Star Family Memorial Monument to honor those families that gave more than any of us. They gave one of their loved ones so we can be free. We've got 63 more that are in the process somewhere in the country. West Virginia can be very, very proud. We already have seven communities in this state that have put up a Gold Star Family Memorial Monument to honor those in their communities. We have four more that are in the process and working every day, and in just a few months they will be on live.
So it's happening all over the country because of the big hearts and the love that people show for those who gave so much of a sacrifice.
We need $12,000 to meet our goal for our Capitol monument. So I'm hoping we can get $12,000 out of him.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Well, I'll tell you what. You can keep that little orange jacket, and I'll give you the 12,000 tomorrow out of the contingency fund. And you stay away from my hatchet.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Listen, let me tell you something else. The good Lord gave you the ability to smile and to laugh. It's good stuff. This is an unbelievable hero right in our midst, and he is unreal. Unbelievable what he can do and say.
And I'd like to touch on just a couple other things really quick. The arts. And the funding of the arts is terribly important to our state. We don't want in any way to lose our identity of how great we really are. And you know that every dollar every dollar that we pump into arts, we return back 23 almost instantaneously.
Brother Randall, where are you?
Oh, my goodness. Please stand. And we're going to
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: I mean, what a job he is doing. It's off the chart. Look at this. I love it.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: You didn't even let me, you know, recognize these two other people. There is a lady here, and her name is Chiho Feindler how about that? and she's a senior director of Programs and Policy, and she heads up this effort called Save the Music. And absolutely there is packages of musical instruments in all 55 of our counties. It's unbelievable how important that is.
And hold on just one second.
And the other person that is here that we want to recognize is our senior advisor to the Office of Senior Deputy Chairman good gracious oh, no, wait a minute. This is the Chief Grant Coordinator. Oh. Forgive me. We need you really bad. This is Joshua Mauthe.
Where is he? If he would stand. Thank you, sir.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Now, we're on the homestretch. Year 2020. An incredible, incredible anniversary year. One hundred years now one hundred years the women have been able to vote. Absolutely 100 years. And please, let's all cheer in every way, shape, form, or fashion for that anniversary.
THE COURT: Okay. Last year I came to you with the idea of an Intermediate Court of Appeals. I really truly believe that it is a part of putting us on our way to restore honor and integrity to our system even better. We need to do it. And I think we can get it across the finish line this year. It will help us in lots and lots of different ways.
You know, now, the other thing I would say about this is just this. With a follow up of the Court we have right here, and the assistance that we can give in many different ways, we've got to get that across the finish line.
Last thing I would say. My very last page. I'd say just this. Cathy and I the other day, we went to the National Guard hangar, and at that hangar there was a plane that landed with a hundred plus of our bravest and best that came back from 11 months of duty all over the world most of them in Iraq and Kuwait. Just think about it. Think about last night. Think about last night, if you would have been the parents or the spouse of your child that would have been in Iraq, on of those bases. Just think about what I've said about how much we owe. How much we truly owe.
Cathy and I were there. And they got off the plane, and all their families were here and there and everything, and here they came. And Cathy kept saying, "Can you imagine? Can you imagine, really and truly, how tough and how good this really is?" We both walked around with tears running down our face. It was unbelievable how great it really, really truly was.
Now, but on that same day, that same day, we had seven being deployed that day.
Now, let me tell you. Tonight we have with us Mrs. Tiffany Holstein. Her And her daughter Taylor. Her husband is a technical sergeant, Brandon Holstein. He's deployed with our 130th Airlift Wing.
If she would stand, please. Give her the love that absolutely all of us want to do.
GOVERNOR JUSTICE: Tiffany, Brandon will be home soon. And that will be great stuff.
You know, I'd leave you with one thought. There may be people here that love West Virginia as much as me. But there is no way on earth there is anybody here that loves it more. I love you. I love this great state. I love all that we stand for. I love the fact that I've been able to be maybe a coach. I've been maybe working towards the fact that if we could just say that maybe, just maybe, I've been a coach that's been working to train you for the Olympics and that's you, being West Virginia and all I would say now is: Go win the gold.
God bless you. Thank you.