Governor Doesn’t Know What to Do With $625 Million From the Feds

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has a problem. The federal government sent his state $625 million and little information on what kind of strings might be attached.

“We’ve got $625 million in a bank account right now and we’re going to get more and I don’t know specifically how we’re going to be able to use it,” Justice (R) told a press conference Thursday. “And maybe at he end of the day we can’t use it.”

“If we can’t use it we’re going to have shortfalls and we’re going to have to go back and look at a rainy day or whatever it may be,” he said.

West Virginia had been projecting a $376 million state revenue shortfall as it responds to the spread of the coronavirus, Justice said.

Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg
Gov. Jim Justice (R-W.Va.) applauds on stage at a tax event in West Virginia in April 2018.

The economic stimulus money from Washington — Justice expects to get $1.25 billion in all — could offset those losses, depending on the rules for using the money, he said. But so far, the federal government hasn’t provided any instructions.

Some governors used a Thursday conference call with President Donald Trump to ask about using the money to fill depleted state coffers, and were told the federal government would work with them on how to use the funds, Justice said.

The governor offered this summary to residents wondering what will happen next: “Jim Justice believes as your governor, as the businessman that you elected, that he’s got this and he’s going to figure this out.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Ruoff in Washington at aruoff@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Katherine Rizzo at krizzo@bgov.com; Loren Duggan at lduggan@bgov.com

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