CHARLESTON — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin received high marks from his peers following his State of the State address Wednesday night at the State Capitol.
Tomblin took firm stands on important issues such as jobs, coal, prescription drug abuse and education and senators and delegates alike praised him for his words.
Tomblin also distanced himself from the Obama administration and vowed to continue fighting against the president’s EPA for coal.
“As long as I am Governor I will continue to fight this administrations war on coal,” Tomblin said. “A few months ago, a federal court agreed with our lawsuit and ruled that the federal EPA had in fact overstepped its authority. I will keep fighting until Washington recognizes that one of the keys to America’s future is the use and promotion of our natural resources. It is a fight from which I will not shrink, and one that I fully expect to win!”
Logan County Senator Art Kirkendoll said Tomblin’s stance on jobs is important to West Virginia’s future.
“I thought his speech was right to the point on key issues for the state and he was so passionate about making us a state that has an absolutely great work force and he talked about an educated work force and he topped it off by talking about his efforts to make it a drug-free work force,” Sen. Kirkendoll said. “When you are talking about quality jobs and giving our kids and everybody an opportunity to go to work and to be safe, that’s about as good an effort and commitment as a governor can make.
“I believe the passion he spoke with was very unique and very direct. He said there are avenues for West Virginia in the next few decades to be very special. He hit on all aspects of people investing money in our great state at record paces and he talked about our liability factors being paid down at a record pace. I think the key to sustaining this and to make everything applicable to the future was his efforts and the way he talked with passion about good, quality-paying jobs. He truly believes that’s not only a way to take care of your family, but also to reduce social problems. I applaud his efforts and his sincerity and, most of all, I think he’s on the right track and I hope both legislative bodies will agree that he’s there and will produce great legislation in this session and in future sessions to make West Virginia a special place to be.”
Mingo County Senator H. Truman Chafin said he gives Gov. Tomblin an “A-plus” for his strong words.
“I was glad he went on the offensive when he said he was going to fight the war on coal. Everybody in West Virginia — and particularly southern West Virginia where we live — really understands what he’s talking about. The EPA pulling the Arch Coal permit and then the big drag line after they issued that and took it back, nothing is more offensive than that.
“I think his speech was well contained and he hit all the high points — especially on the positive stuff that’s going on that we sometimes don’t hear. I’m glad he’s tackling OPEB (Other Post-Employment Benefits), which is a millions-of-dollars thing that we’ve got around our necks. We did the teachers retirement fund and paid that off. If we can do all this, we’re going to be in great shape financially. I want to give him an A+ on his remarks. I am so proud to have someone from southern West Virginia up there as governor. I served with Earl Ray as senate majority for 20 years and it’s like having a member of the family there, too. On a personal note, congratulations to the governor and we’re looking for good things in the south.”
Logan County Delegate Rupert “Rupie” Phillips also said Tomblin gave a great speech.
“I loved that he was so pro-coal and he stands against drug abuse and he talked about drug testing,” Phillips, who walked with the governor as he entered the House Chambers for the State of the State address, said. “I think he did a great job and I’m behind our governor from Logan County.”
Senator Ron Stollings said he believes the governor’s remarks were important on several issues.
“I think Earl Ray believes in and is working on using West Virginia’s strengths,” Stollings said. “We’re an energy state. He wants to take that and run with it, as we should. He understands there has been a war on coal which has certainly not been good for West Virginia as we’re mining less and less coal by some 16 percent and it’s all decreasing in the southern coalfields.
“He’s trying to go after things he’s passionate about. He wants more jobs. He wants West Virginia to be a business-friendly state so that we can continue to grow our economy and he thinks education is the way to get there. He’s passionate about education. And he’s going after prescription fraud drug abuse. He has to. It’s crippling our society. He’s going to take a multi-faceted approach to it with drug testing and some treatment. I thought he did a great job and I’m excited to kick off the session and do some good things.”