UPDATE: Governor authorized to sell bonds for road projects

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Update: 12/4/2017 5:48 P.M.

The West Virginia Legislature authorizes issuing up to $800 million in bonds for road repairs and construction during the next seven months-followed by another $800 million in the following three years.

That follows the October approval by voters of $1.6 billion in new bonds to repair roads and bridges.

At a news conference Monday at the state capital, held while lawmakers were debating the legislation, the governor called it one of a recent series of positive developments for the state's economy.

"We've got a lot of work to do, but we're doing it, with these great people behind me and a lot of great people out here," the governor said. "And secretaries who are knocking it out of the park. Yeah, we're gettin' there."

The Republican-controlled legislature early in 2017 approved taxes and fees to support bond repayments, which the governor signed into law.


UPDATE: 11/11/2017 9:30 P.M.

West Virginia's secretary of state says 10 percent of the state's 1.2 million registered voters cast ballots in last month's road bonds election.

According to The Register-Herald , Secretary of State Mac Warner's office released official results Friday showing 122,419 votes cast in the Oct. 7 special election.

Results show almost 73 percent voted for issuing $1.6 billion in state bonds to repair and build roads and bridges.

The state lists more than 600 planned projects.

The Republican-controlled Legislature this year approved taxes and fees to support bond repayments, which Gov. Jim Justice signed into law.

They raised the variable minimum wholesale gas tax by 3.5 cents a gallon, increased the vehicle sales tax from 5 percent to 6 percent and hiked the motor vehicle registration fee from $30 to $50.


Updated: 10/20/2017 4:00 P.M.

The road bond amendment was approved by West Virginia voters two weeks ago.

And the state is wasting no time getting the money to fund anticipated projects.

The governor's office announced the state is planning the first of three sales to fund bridge replacement and interstate highway rehabilitation projects.

The Justice administration says the interest rate for that first sale will be 2.145%-lower than the state had hoped for.

While campaigning for its passage, Gov. Jim Justice said it was important to sell bonds to raise money for road projects, while interest rates are low.


10/9/2017 7:00 P.M.

While he was promoting the constitutional amendment, Gov. Jim Justice indicated Saturday's vote was also a referendum on his administration.

Whether it is or not, West Virginia is getting ready to sell bond to pay for major construction and renovation projects.

Jill Parsons, President of the Mid-Ohio Valley Chamber of Commerce, says jobs for construction workers, temporary as they may be, will just be the beginning of economic growth.

"Hopefully, it will lead to major building, manufacturing, economic development and investment," Parsons says. "You have safer roads, more access to the population centers, for these different ways of transporting goods and services."

The area has seen some major development announcements in the past two weeks. Parsons hopes plans to build and makeover major highways will lead to more of the same.

"I think these projects get on people's radars, and when they see the state is investing in infrastructure through roads and jobs of this nature, I think that gets attention. It means the state is putting things into place that will make it easier to run a business from the state of West Virginia, and that's encouraging."

The Vice-President for Operations at Solvay, which is expanding its Willow Island plant, believes a project that's part of the bond issue, the widening of West Virginia Route 2, would make it easier to move goods to and from the Pleasants County facility.


10/7/2017

With all precincts reporting, West Virginia voters have overwhelmingly agreed to issue $1.6 billion in state bonds to repair and build roads and bridges.

The Secretary of State's office reports 86,819 voted in favor for 72.72% of the vote.

32,564 voted against the issues for 27.28% of the vote.

"We will start the process Monday to put in motion the Bonding process, the bidding process and the plan to make better roads and bridges a reality in West Virginia," Governor Jim Justice said in a statement after the results on the referendum came in. "One important part of the bidding process will be to take every step possible so that our contractors hire West Virginians FIRST. We are also going to work with all of our educational institutions to start training programs for this workforce.

The Governor went on to say: "I am also going to appoint an oversight committee to make certain we eliminate waste and any other shenanigans during the contracting, bidding and construction process.

A frequent criticism of the bond issue was whether or not West Virginians would be hired for the projects instead of out-of-state workers. Skeptics also disagreed with the statements by Justice and other supporters of the Road Bond Ammendment that taxes and fee increases approved by the 2017 Legislature were sufficient to pay for the projects, without increasing taxes in the future.

The Secretary of State's office says nofficial turnout for the special election is 10.94 percent of the 1,222,562 voters who were registered by the Sept. 18th deadline.


With most precincts reporting, West Virginia voters are overwhelmingly agreeing to issue $1.6 billion in state bonds to repair and build roads and bridges.

The Secretary of State's office reports 78,013 voted in favor and 30,268 opposed in results from 88 percent of precincts.

The state lists more than 600 planned projects.

The Republican-controlled Legislature this year approved taxes and fees to support bond repayments, which Gov. Jim Justice signed into law.

They raised the variable minimum wholesale gas tax by 3.5 cents a gallon, increased the vehicle sales tax from 5 percent to 6 percent and hiked the motor vehicle registration fee from $30 to $50.

The West Virginia Republican Party Executive Committee opposed the bonding, saying it would commit the state to 25 years of interest payments.


Polls are now closed for the West Virginia special election on the WV road bond referendum.


Polls are now opened for the West Virginians to decide a referendum on issuing $1.6 billion in state bonds to repair and build roads and bridges.

The state has listed more than 600 projects, saying they'd get done in the next few years.

The Republican-controlled Legislature this year approved taxes and fees to support bond repayments, which Gov. Jim Justice signed into law.

They raised the variable minimum wholesale gas tax by 3.5 cents a gallon, increased the vehicle sales tax from 5 percent to 6 percent and hiked the motor vehicle registration fee from $30 to $50.

The West Virginia Republican Party Executive Committee opposed the bonding, saying it would commit the state to 25 years of interest payments.

Polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m.


Update: 10/6/2017

It may be a special election, and it may be on a Saturday.

But the same preliminary work is going on for the West Virginia road bond vote that's done for a regular election.

Poll workers Friday picked up their election materials at the Wood County Courthouse.

County Clerk Mark Rhodes says poll workers have all been hired for Saturday's special election.

Voters are determining whether the state can sell bonds to pay for major road construction and improvements.

We'll have results from the vote Saturday night on WTAP News at 11 and on the web channel.


10/5/2017

Early voting has ended for Saturday's special West Virginia election.

That means voters who cast ballots on election day, October 7, will have to do so at their regular precincts.

Polls will open Saturday morning at 6:30 and close at 7:30 Saturday night.

A light turnourt is expected.

Voters are deciding on a constitutional amendment allowing the state to sell bonds to pay for major road construction and repairs.

The Wood County Clerk's office says two of the polling places will be at different locations than usual.

"(People who normally vote at the) Washington Bottom Community Building will be voting at the volunteer fire department, which is right beside it," County Clerk Mark Rhodes says. "Due to the construction at the Wood County Library, we're utilizing the Friendship Kitchen, which allowed us to use it on Saturday, It's directly across from the library. Both locations are close, and we will have signage up at both locations, to make sure voters are informed where they need to go."

A little more than 3% of registered voters turned out for early voting in Wood County from September 22-October 4.

The largest turnout was Wednesday, the final day, when over 350 voters cast ballots.

The county's total turnout for the 11 early voting days was 1,791.

According to the Secretary of State's website, 206 voters came to early voting in Pleasants County. Turnout in other counties:

Wirt County: 188
Ritchie County: 285
Jackson County: 276



 
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