West Virginia Year in Review


West Virginia Year in Review
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A message from Gov. Justice

“It has been another outstanding year for West Virginia! From signing the largest tax cut in state history to unveiling our newest state park, the Mountain State is thriving in so many ways. As I head into my final year as your Governor, I’m committed to continuing the rocketship ride we’re on, giving all West Virginians more reasons to be proud of our home. I cannot emphasize enough that these accomplishments have only been possible because of your support. So, please join me in celebrating what has truly been a year to remember for West Virginia.

“And to all West Virginians: Happy New Year!”

West Virginia passes largest tax cut in state history, adds another pay raise for teachers, state employees
The most significant accomplishment of the year was the passage of the 21.25% personal income tax cut, the largest tax cut in state history. In March, Gov. Justice signed HB 2526, which cut the personal income tax and effectively eliminated the annual car tax by providing refundable credits.

The bill also contains provisions for additional income tax cuts beginning as early as 2025. These triggers put West Virginia on a pathway toward eliminating the personal income tax.

During the bill signing in March, the Governor joined West Virginia Legislature members, including Speaker of the House Roger Hanshaw and President Craig Blair, to celebrate.
Additionally, Gov. Justice pushed for a fourth additional pay raise for all state employees, teachers, service personnel, and the West Virginia State Police. The bill, SB 423, passed unanimously in both chambers.

Among other financial achievements, cumulative revenue collections for Fiscal Year 2023 came in $1.8 billion above estimate, shattering the all-time record for single-year revenue surplus in state history.

West Virginia is nearly $300 million ahead of estimates for Fiscal Year 2024.
Business continues to boom in West Virginia with economic development projects all across the state
West Virginia has become an increasingly attractive state for startups and Fortune 500 companies. In 2023, the Mountain State celebrated several economic development groundbreakings and announcements. 

In April, Gov. Justice announced that UNDBIO, a South Korean pharmaceutical company that provides diabetic care solutions, has secured a lease with West Virginia University to build an insulin manufacturing facility in Morgantown. The company will create 200 jobs within the first three years and will invest $100,000,000 in phase one of the project.

In August, Gov. Justice announced that Fidelis New Energy selected Mason County as the site for a lifecycle carbon neutral hydrogen production facility – The Mountaineer GigaSystem and the Monarch Cloud Campus for data centers powered by net-zero hydrogen.

The same month, Gov. Justice announced that Omnis Fuel Technologies will invest $800 million in the Pleasants Power Plant and create an estimated 600 jobs. The coal-fired plant restarted in August, saving more than 160 West Virginia jobs.
Other major economic development announcements include:
  • Our Next Energy (ONE) plans to build a battery storage system manufacturing facility in Jackson County.
  • Delta Cooling Towers is expanding operations in Barbour County with an investment of $6.7 million.
  • Treplar is investing in a $50 million food packaging facility in Berkeley County.
  • Nucor broke ground on their plant in Mason County, the largest manufacturing investment in state history.
  • Clean Vision Corporation is investing $50 million to build a facility in Kanawha County.
  • Niterra North America Inc. kicked off a major plant expansion in Kanawha County.
During Gov. Justice's tenure, billions of dollars have been invested in West Virginia, making it one of the best places to live, work, and raise a family.
Bridge projects highlight successful year of infrastructure improvements
The backbone of every successful economy is the quality of its infrastructure. Guided by Gov. Justice and his Roads to Prosperity program, roads and infrastructure in West Virginia continue to improve, with billions of dollars from federal, state, and local levels actively employed to enhance accessibility throughout West Virginia.

Gov. Justice, along with officials from the West Virginia Department of Transportation, kicked off the year announcing the completion of the I-70 bridge project in Wheeling. The project was the largest under Gov. Justice’s Roads to Prosperity program with a final cost of $221,034,932.55.

However, that was not the only completed bridge project in the Northern Panhandle. In September, Gov. Justice also celebrated the grand opening of the historic Wellsburg Bridge, connecting the communities of Wellsburg, WV to Brilliant, Ohio.
In Southern West Virginia, the Governor opened the ‘Bridge to Nowhere,’ connecting a three-mile stretch of the King Coal Highway spanning from Airport Road to John Nash Boulevard. Five days later, he also opened the highly-anticipated Grant Street Bridge in Bluefield. 

Other major road and infrastructure projects included:
  • The groundbreaking for the next section of Corridor H in Tucker County.
  • A new bridge project announcement which will enhance economic growth and road safety in Monongalia County.
  • The completion of the Charles Chuck Yeager Bridge project on the 76th anniversary of breaking the sound barrier.
  • The opening of the RHL Boulevard connector, easing flow of traffic in South Charleston. 
Tourism sets economic impact records, new state park opens in Nicholas County
Finding a reason to explore West Virginia has never been easier, and tourism continues to see record highs with people from all around the world touring the Mountain State.

In September, Gov. Justice announced the economic impact from tourism in 2022 was over $7 billion, representing a 17% increase in visitor spending compared to pre-pandemic levels. In the simplest terms, West Virginia saw more visitors, and those visitors spent more money than they had in previous years—a very positive sign for West Virginia's future.

On top of the record-breaking economic impact, Gov. Justice and the West Virginia Department of Tourism announced the opening of our newest state park — Summersville Lake State Park. The northern shore of the state's largest lake in Nicholas County will be transformed into a premiere outdoor adventure park in one of West Virginia's most iconic spots.
Additionally, the New River Gorge region was also named 'Best Family Trip in the U.S.' by Outside Magazine, one of many recognitions the area has received in recent years. 

Other major tourism-related projects include:
More trout stockings, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts collaborate with state parks in 2023
The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources experienced another year of remarkable achievements. 

A key focus for Gov. Justice has been enhancing the WVDNR Trout Stocking program. In 2023, there was significant progress as the WVDNR stocked nearly 130,000 more trout compared to the previous year, marking a 19% increase from the 2022 figure. 

In March, Gov. Justice also kicked off the sixth West Virginia Gold Rush with a ceremonial stocking at Babcock State Park. The Gold Rush included 12 days of special golden rainbow trout stockings at 68 lakes and streams around the state, including waters in or near 15 state parks.

As far as outdoor learning, Gov. Justice also championed youth engagement and conservation as the Buckskin Council of the Boy Scouts of America and Buckskin Council of the Girl Scouts of America signed a Memorandum of Understanding to allow more access to various state parks for diverse activities. The agreement encourages scouts to actively participate in service projects to conserve and preserve our invaluable natural treasures. 
Gov. Justice appoints three secretaries to oversee the newly established West Virginia Departments of Health, Human Services, and Health Facilities
Preparations continue as the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources undergoes a separation into three distinct departments, the West Virginia Departments of Health, Health Facilities, and Human Services.

The West Virginia Legislature passed House Bill 2006 during the latest legislative session, reorganizing the current West Virginia DHHR into three separate departments, each overseen by its own cabinet-level secretary, effective January 1, 2024.

In May, Governor Justice appointed three new secretaries to lead these newly established departments. 
  • Dr. Sherri A. Young, DO, MBA, FAAFP — Department of Health
  • Dr. Cynthia Persily — Department of Human Services
  • Michael Caruso — Department of Health Facilities
This restructuring aims to enhance operational efficiency, concentrate efforts on specific areas of responsibility, and address the unique challenges faced by each department.
Gov. Justice continues to support West Virginia veterans
Gov. Justice remained steadfast in his commitment to ensuring veterans receive the well-deserved care and support they need in 2023.

In October, Gov. Justice broke ground on Charles Calvin Rogers Veterans Nursing Facility in Beckley. The 120-bed, state-of-the-art nursing facility will be constructed through state and federal money. Veterans in Southern West Virginia had appealed for this facility, and it became a reality when Gov. Justice earmarked funds necessary for construction.
Gov. Justice also signed Senate Bill 1037, which provided a $1 million supplemental appropriation for a facility-wide bed replacement at the West Virginia Veterans Nursing Facility in Clarksburg. The location opened in 2008 and is considered one of the finest veterans-only nursing homes in the United States.
Posey Perry Emergency Food Fund opens to address food insecurity in West Virginia
In October, Gov. Justice announced the launch of the Posey Perry Emergency Food Fund, a $10 million reserve account dedicated to combating food insecurity in West Virginia.

Pantries associated with the Mountaineer Food Bank and Facing Hunger Foodbank network are encouraged to seek funding by contacting the organizations directly.

In April, Gov. Justice unveiled a $10 million ceremonial check commemorating the initial funding, which was secured in this year’s budget. The ceremony also included a ribbon-cutting at the West Virginia National Guard’s Regional Food Distribution Center at Rock Branch, celebrating the new Hunger Free West Virginia Cooler.

The emergency fund supports the state's largest food banks, Mountaineer Food Bank and Facing Hunger Foodbank. Together, these organizations provide meals to food pantries across all 55 counties in West Virginia.
Jobs & Hope offers growing support to individuals attending substance use treatment
In May, Gov. Justice announced the Get Paid to Pay it Forward campaign, compensating drivers for transporting individuals to substance use treatment through the Jobs & Hope West Virginia Program.

This initiative addresses the transportation challenges faced by people seeking substance use treatment, especially in rural areas of the state with limited public transit options.

Launched by Gov. Justice in Oct. 2019, Jobs & Hope West Virginia offers support through a statewide collaboration of agencies that provide West Virginians in need the opportunity to obtain career training and ultimately secure meaningful employment.

In addition to the transportation initiative, Gov. Justice highlighted a partnership that allows Jobs & Hope participants to enroll in a car donation service where Good News Mountaineer Garage will supply a free vehicle for those in need.
Division of Motor Vehicles creates National Digital Titling Clearinghouse, introduces new driver's license design
Fueled by cutting-edge technology and a commitment to public service, the West Virginia DMV made history in 2023 with two major strides: a nationwide digital titling platform and a stunning new driver's license design.

In February, Gov. Justice signed House Bill 2506, paving the way for establishing a digital vehicle title clearinghouse. This groundbreaking move positioned West Virginia as the first state in the nation to adopt such technology, with the initiative anticipated to bring in millions of dollars.

In August, Gov. Justice announced that the DMV's National Digital Titling Clearinghouse had expanded its reach by enrolling businesses nationwide. This inclusive approach enabled national auto retailers, fleet operators, insurance carriers, and salvage vehicle companies from all 50 states to participate in the Clearinghouse onboarding process, improving businesses nationwide. 

Gov. Justice announced that alongside the integration of cutting-edge technology, the DMV introduced driver's licenses and identification cards showcasing the iconic New River Gorge Bridge, representing the nation's newest National Park, the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, in addition to featuring the official state branding.

Furthermore, each card features the Almost Heaven tourism brand on the back, a concept introduced by Gov. Justice in 2018 and now prominently showcased on essential documents like driver's licenses and identification cards.
Gov. Justice signs legislation to improve primary and secondary education, announces historic allocation from School Building Authority
Since taking office, Gov. Justice has focused on making education our centerpiece. This continued to be evident throughout 2023.

In March, Gov. Justice signed legislation to enhance school safety, improve literacy and numeracy rates, and provide free college credit classes.

In December, Gov. Justice, as Chairman of the West Virginia School Building Authority (SBA), announced a historic milestone as the SBA approved an allocation of $111,687,534 to 19 counties for Fiscal Year 2024. 

This funding, the largest annual award by the SBA since 2011, will be used to construct ten new schools and perform major renovations on thirteen existing schools across the state.
In December, the Governor presented a $1 million check to the West Virginia Chamber Foundation, bolstering their Jobs for West Virginia's Graduates (JWVG) program and securing brighter futures for countless students across the state.

Gov. Justice has also emphasized the importance of meeting post-secondary education demands. In April, at WVU Parkersburg, he announced the continuation of his successful Nursing Workforce Expansion Program via the $20 million approved in this year's state budget.

In September, Gov. Justice announced that West Virginia’s EMS workforce has grown by more than 600 over the past year following his Answer the Call initiative, which addresses the state’s need for additional trained Emergency Medical Services (EMS) professionals.
First Lady Cathy Justice oversees expansion of Communities In Schools, Friends With Paws programs
The year 2023 has proven to be an exciting period for First Lady Cathy Justice and her office. Various creative endeavors, including the inaugural West Virginia Punch Contest and the design of the First Lady's Christmas ornament, along with other ongoing initiatives, have kept the First Lady and her team actively engaged throughout the year.

However, the substantial growth of the First Lady's key initiatives, Communities In Schools (CIS) and Friends With Paws, stands out as the most significant achievement. Under the capable leadership of First Lady Justice and with valuable input from the West Virginia Department of Education CIS staff, both programs have thrived and made substantial progress in 2023.
Communities In Schools
Some things are better said from the source itself; a special message from the First Lady follows: 

"I am thrilled to announce that Communities In Schools (CIS) has expanded to 53 counties across West Virginia. CIS has a simple yet powerful mission: ensuring that every child in our state has the support they need to succeed in school and life. With this expansion, we are taking a significant step forward in our commitment to providing our children with the tools and resources they deserve. With over 100,000 students being served across the state, CIS is a testament to our dedication to ensuring their health and success.

By placing a Site Coordinator in each school, CIS can offer academic and social support, mentorship, and resources to help students overcome obstacles and thrive. I've had the privilege of witnessing CIS's transformative impact on our young people. The success stories of overcoming obstacles, the growth and development of the students, and their various achievements are truly inspiring.

As First Lady, I am committed to our children's well-being, and I cannot wait to announce when we have reached all 55 counties! We can create a brighter, more promising future for West Virginia's students. I invite you to join us on this journey as we expand and strengthen CIS, a program making a real difference in students' lives."

CIS is currently in 53 counties, 264 schools, and impacting over 100,000 students.
Friends With Paws
Under the leadership of First Lady Cathy Justice, the Friends With Paws school therapy dog program experienced significant expansion across numerous Communities In Schools sites throughout the state. In 2023, ten therapy dogs were placed, ensuring that thousands of students had access to the therapeutic benefits of professionally trained therapy dogs.

In all, nineteen therapy dogs have been placed across all programmatic levels, bringing peace, comfort, love, and joy to the school and the community since 2022. These therapy dogs are specially trained to provide comfort and companionship and play an integral role in reducing student stress, anxiety, and behavioral issues.

Among other things, the presence of a therapy dog also helped to increase attendance in many instances, as students knew they would have a constant companion at school every day. We look forward to 2024, the culmination of primary initiatives and more projects involving our great state's creative and talented residents.

Contact Information

Jordan Damron, jordan.l.damron@wv.gov; CJ Harvey, cj.harvey@wv.gov


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

Office Phone:
304.558.2000 or 1.888.438.2731

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