West Virginia Week in Review - June 27, 2020

6/27/2020

 

 

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Gov. Justice: Revenue surplus projected despite pandemic

 

 

 

During his latest daily press briefing Friday, Gov. Jim Justice announced that he and state revenue experts now expect another historic revenue surplus in West Virginia when the books close on Fiscal Year 2020, despite the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the state’s economy.

“Not only did the pandemic put our economy in jeopardy, but we also moved the income tax filing deadline from April to July,” Gov. Justice said. “We had a tremendous deficit at that point in time.”

After setting the all-time state record for revenue growth in FY2019, those surpluses were built into initial budget estimates for FY2020.

“My revenue people told me that we could probably forecast a $525 million-dollar deficit,” Gov. Justice said. “It was really, really difficult and we had to try to figure out what in the world to do.”

However, it was at this point that the Governor’s plan to guide West Virginia through the pandemic began to bear fruit.

“Lo and behold, we’re going to run across the finish line on June 30th with a surplus,” Gov. Justice said. “It’s not going to be much – it’s probably going to be less than $10 million – but we’re going to go across the finish line with a surplus in a year that our experts predicted we were going to be $525 million upside-down.”

 

 

 

Gov. Justice announces plan to distribute $1.25 billion in CARES Act funding

 

 

 

Also on Friday, Gov. Justice announced how he is proposing to distribute $1.25 billion in federal funding through the CARES Act to benefit all West Virginians.

A breakdown of the Governor’s proposed use of the funding is as follows:

Local Governments – $200 million
This is the money that will reimburse West Virginia cities and counties for COVID-19 related expenses. A web portal is available for city and county government officials to apply for this grant funding: grants.wv.gov. Interested parties can also call the helpline: 1-833-94-GRANT.

More information on these grants is listed further below in this release.

Small Businesses – $150 million
Calling West Virginia’s small businesses “the backbone of everything we do in this state,” Gov. Justice is proposing to give 15,000 of West Virginia’s small businesses $10,000 each to help recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Any small business in West Virginia that was in existence as of February 29, 2020, that has anywhere from 5-35 employees will be able to apply for this funding. Additional information on the process for applying will be provided at a later date.

Fairmont Hospital – $10 million
This funding will reimburse Fairmont Hospital for expenses incurred while setting up as a COVID-19 surge hospital. WVU will continue to operate this hospital until a new hospital is built.

COVID-19 related highway projects – $100 million
This is limited to projects that will improve access to medical facilities. This will allow other money in the road fund to be redirected for other projects.

Department of Transportation officials have taken on this project as MARP – Medical Access Route Projects. Deputy Secretary Jimmy Wriston says the DOT is identifying eligible projects and plans to post them on an all-new online dashboard in the weeks ahead.

“We utilized asset management principals in a data-driven manner to identify and prioritize projects in this program,” Wriston said. “We vetted these projects with local EMS, first responders, and county OES.

“I want to stress that we’re going to continue to do these projects in the correct way,” Wriston continued. “Prior to paving, these roads will be ditched, drainage pipes will be replaced, and shoulders will be stabilized. As always, we’re going to do the work in a completely transparent manner.”

Local Public Service Districts – $25 million
This money will help keep Local Public Service Districts solvent.

“They're having trouble collecting some dollars because they're working with people on their water bills and things like that,” Gov. Justice said. “We've got some extra money that we're going to put over to them to assure that our public service districts are well taken care of.”

Reimburse contingency fund – $16 million
This is for the PPE and other equipment the State purchased prior to the federal stimulus coming in.

State COVID-19 expense reimbursement – $57 million
This is for reimbursements to State agencies for COVID-19 related expenses.

WorkForce West Virginia 2020 – $287 million
These funds are to help support unemployed West Virginians in the short term.

WorkForce West Virginia 2021 – $400 million
These funds are to help support unemployed West Virginians over the course of the upcoming fiscal year.

 

 

 

West Virginia kicks off Week 9 of "The Comeback" plan

 

 

 

During Monday’s briefing, Gov. Justice offered a reminder that the Week 9 phase of West Virginia Strong – The Comeback is now officially underway, meaning that several additional types of activities are permitted to reopen, provided that all safety guidelines are being properly followed.

Approved activity reopenings on Monday, June 22, included:

Monday also marked the first day that high schools across West Virginia were permitted to begin holding in-person graduation ceremonies, provided that several strict guidelines are followed; including that all graduations must be held at outdoor venues and must be structured to allow for adequate social distancing and for other safety measures to be properly followed.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice urges Myrtle Beach visitors to get tested

 

 

 

Once again on Friday, Gov. Justice discussed the recent surge in COVID-19 cases being seen at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, cautioning residents who are considering traveling to the popular vacation destination that there are now cases in 18 West Virginia counties that are tied residents traveling to the Myrtle Beach area. This number is up from 11 counties experiencing cases as of Wednesday.

The following counties that have reported to DHHR that they are investigating outbreaks: Berkeley, Boone, Cabell, Fayette, Greenbrier, Harrison, Jackson, Kanawha, Logan, McDowell, Mercer, Monongalia, Putnam, Preston, Raleigh, Ritchie, Taylor, and Wood.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice, DHHR announce one-time payment to foster care providers for COVID-19 response

 

 

 

Gov. Justice announced Wednesday that the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Children and Families will soon issue a one-time payment to foster care families and providers as part of the state’s ongoing response to COVID-19. This payment will provide in-state foster families, child-placing agencies, as well as residential and emergency shelters additional financial help for costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic over the past several months. The payment will be based upon the number of children in the home or facility at the end of June 2020. Payment will be received in July 2020.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice provides update on Raleigh County assisted living community

 

 

 

Gov. Justice reported Monday that one direct care staff member at the Greystone Assisted Living Community in Raleigh County has tested positive for COVID-19. The Governor reported that the employee had worked in the facility both the day before and the day of the positive test. However, the employee had been wearing a cloth mask throughout their shift. Monday, county health officials tested all residents and all staff members who live and work in the community. At the direction of Gov. Justice, West Virginia was the first state in the nation to require the full testing of all assisted living facilities and the first state in the nation to require the full testing of all nursing homes.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice, Curator Randall Reid-Smith host West Virginia Day celebration

 

 

 

On Saturday, June 20, West Virginia Curator of the Arts Randall Reid-Smith hosted a video presentation to celebrate the state's 157th birthday. Gov. Justice joined the curator to discuss the great people of the state and all that the state has to offer. The event also featured a message from West Virginia National Guard Adjudant General James Hoyer, prayers and messages from religious leaders, and musical performances.

 

 

 

DHHR provides vacation travel guidance

 

 

 

Monday afternoon, officials with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Public Health (BPH) released safety guidelines outlining the best practices for West Virginians traveling for vacation.

 

 

 

Upcoming free community COVID-19 testing announced

 

 

 

After providing free COVID-19 testing in several communities across the state this week, Gov. Justice also offered a reminder that additional free testing opportunities will be provided in Cabell, Hancock, Lincoln, and Mingo counties in the coming days.

Testing is scheduled as follows:

Cabell County
Saturday, June 27
9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
A.D. Lewis Community Center: 1450 A.D. Lewis Avenue, Huntington, WV

Hancock County
Saturday, June 27
10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Mountaineer Casino: 1420 Mountaineer Circle, Track Side Building, New Cumberland, WV

Lincoln County
Monday, June 29
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Lincoln County High School: 81 Lincoln Panther Way, Hamlin, WV 25523

Mingo County
Saturday, June 27
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
183 East 2nd Avenue, Williamson, WV

 

 

 

Gov. Justice declares State of Emergency for Greenbrier and Monroe counties

 

 

 

Last Saturday, Gov. Justice declared a State of Emergency for Greenbrier and Monroe counties due to heavy rainfall that caused significant local flooding. The Governor has authorized West Virginia Division of Emergency Management to support these counties and to use all State resources necessary.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice pays tribute to fallen firefighter

 

 

 

Gov. Justice took time out of Monday’s address to discuss the tragic loss this weekend of a member of the Iaeger Volunteer Fire Department. According to the West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office, 42-year-old Iaeger VFD firefighter Russell Roberson passed away while responding to a house fire in McDowell County.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice clarifies active case numbers

 

 

 

During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Justice offered additional clarification on the remaining number of active COVID-19 cases in Randolph County related to Huttonsville Correctional Center and Jail. In the last several days, DHHR’s Office of Epidemiology and Prevention Services and the West Virginia National Guard have worked closely with the Randolph County Health Department to close out 103 cases associated with the outbreak at Huttonsville Correctional Center. This was a unique situation specific to the outbreak investigation of Huttonsville Correctional Center in that it required manual data entry. The Office of Epidemiology and Prevention Services will be working with the Randolph County Health Department to learn if there are additional case reports to be closed out associated with that outbreak.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice announces unemployment decreases in all 55 counties

 

 

 

Gov. Justice reported on Wednesday that county-level data from WorkForce West Virginia for the month of May showed that the unemployment rates decreased in all 55 counties across the state. Last week, WorkForce West Virginia reported that West Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the month of May dropped three percentage points to 12.9 percent. The national unemployment rate decreased to 13.3 percent in May, meaning West Virginia’s jobs rate is currently better than the national average.

 

 

 

West Virginians urged to participate in 2020 census

 

 

 

Once more, Gov. Justice asked all West Virginians to participate in the 2020 United States Census.

Every West Virginian who does not respond to the Census represents a loss of $20,000 in federal funds over the next 10 years for the state and its local communities. The funds can go toward things like healthcare, education, infrastructure, school lunch programs, and more.

Be counted in minutes: 2020census.gov

 

 

 

Tourism Office showcases Almost Heaven for West Virginia Day

 

 

 

After a week well spent virtually exploring the dreamy landscapes and unbeatable destinations of our state, the Tourism Office released a video of content from West Virginia travelers.

 

 

 

DEP hosts virtual Junior Conservation Camp

 

 

 

This week, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection offered a daily video playlist on its YouTube channel, “Environment Matters,” in place of their annual Junior Conservation Camp. The videos covering traditional camp activities such as hunter safety, crafts, wildlife, kayaking, forestry, and other environmental topics. There were also live webinars. The free videos and lessons were tailored to camp-age viewers.

 

 

 

West Virginian John Morris among 2020 recipients of nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts

 

 

 

The West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, along with the West Virginia Humanities Council and Gov. Justice, announced Tuesday that old-time musician John Morris, of Ivydale, had been selected as one of nine 2020 National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellows, the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.

These lifetime honor awards of $25,000 are given in recognition of both artistic excellence and efforts to sustain cultural traditions for future generations.

An acclaimed fiddler, banjo player, guitarist, songwriter, and life-long resident of Clay County, Morris is the living carrier of the old-time fiddle and banjo tradition particular to his rural home county and the surrounding area. Morris was nominated by West Virginia state folklorist Emily Hilliard through the West Virginia Folklife Program, a project of the West Virginia Humanities Council.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice announces Project Safe Neighborhoods grant award

 

 

 

Gov. Justice announced Thursday that he has awarded $80,385 in Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) grant funds to the City of Huntington. These funds will be used to create and foster safer neighborhoods through a sustained reduction in violent crime. These funds are provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance and are administered by the West Virginia Division of Administrative Services, Justice, and Community Services.

 

 

 

West Virginia State Police secure $1 million grant to aid fight against meth, opioids

 

 

 

A $1 million federal grant awarded to the West Virginia State Police will help troopers coordinate more closely and effectively with county and local law enforcement to target methamphetamine and the illicit trafficking of opioids, including prescription drugs.

WVSP was one of only 12 agencies nationwide that successfully applied for the U.S. Department of Justice funding. The department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) offers the grants through its COPS Anti-Methamphetamine Program (CAMP).

 

 

Gov. Justice wishes West Virginia a Happy Father's Day

 

 

 

 

 

Grant funds to cities and counties now up over $16 million

 

 

 

Also on Friday, Gov. Justice provided an update on cities and counties throughout West Virginia applying for funds through the federal CARES Act, reporting that more than $16 million has now been distributed all across the state.

A web portal is available for city and county government officials to apply for this grant funding: grants.wv.gov. Interested parties can also call the helpline: 1-833-94-GRANT.

Each of the recipients of CARES Act funding, along with grant amounts, are now available to view through the COVID-19 transparency web portal provided by West Virginia State Auditor’s Office.

 

 

 

Also this week:

WILDLIFE: WVDNR highlights special license plates to support wildlife education and research

EDUCATION: State Superintendent provides update on Summer Food Service program

EDUCATION: WVDE looking for community input regarding school re-entry in the fall

 

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Contact Information

Jordan Damron, jordan.l.damron@wv.gov

Contact

Office of the Governor
State Capitol, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. E
Charleston, WV 25305

Office Phone:
304.558.2000 or 1.888.438.2731

Governor's Mansion:
304.558.3588

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