Advertisement

Governor to address Flood Funding in special session

CHARLESTON, WV — During his weekly administration update on Wednesday, Gov. Justice emphasized the need for a recurring resiliency fund to assist West Virginians affected by natural disasters, a topic he also underscored in his 2024 State of the State address.

Although it was his intent to express disappointment that the West Virginia Legislature did not allocate $50 million to the West Virginia Flood Resiliency Trust Fund during the most recent legislative session—a fund that the body created in 2023—Gov. Justice will encourage the Legislature to take up this issue and will place it on the call for an upcoming special session to address this and other important budgetary matters.

While he appreciates the Speaker’s leadership and input from legislators, the Governor believes more could have been done this session to help West Virginians during emergencies, as they’ve done in the past, and wants to make sure our people have all the help they need. 

For instance, in 2016, funds were earmarked for the Governor’s Office to use during the floods. That fund was sporadically used during parts of the pandemic to aid the National Guard and other State agencies, as well. The remaining funds are being held for the outstanding balances of Kanawha and Nicholas counties’ school reconstruction. Nothing has recently been appropriated in any fund for emergencies.

Concerning the Civil Contingent Fund, the Governor maintains that these funds are to be utilized for purposes outlined by the Legislature during the appropriation process, such as economic development, water and infrastructure projects, higher education capital improvements, and, most recently, to maintain our jails and prisons.

We can find no instance when any Governor’s Office has directly distributed payments to members of the public for natural disasters, which is why he continues to emphasize the need to fund the resiliency account, which provides the explicit authorization to do so.

Regarding the administration’s immediate response to the crisis, multiple State agencies are actively engaged and have maintained ongoing communication with the impacted communities to meet their needs and ensure the well-being of our residents.

If lawmakers genuinely support the Governor utilizing the other contingency monies, he is fully prepared to employ them as a down payment. Additionally, he is willing to meet with them to negotiate fully funding the resiliency account.

The Governor will engage with leadership in the upcoming weeks and establish a clear plan of action, a move that will undoubtedly benefit the people of West Virginia.