Press Release—-Charleston, WV, February 15, 2023.
Senator Rucker on why she voted no….
“HB 2882 has drawn considerable controversy and discussion. Unfortunately both sides have alleged things that may not be completely substantiated. What we do know is that HB2882 includes funds for a development project in Weirton, WV that is different than other economic development incentives we have done in the past. I have supported every economic development project I have had a chance to vote on. This project was different and some say better than our usual projects because we, the state, would own the building and invest in the building’s infrastructure changes, with the company leasing the building for 5 years from us, and then could be given the building if they had 750 employees or more at the end of the 5th year. This was necessary to gain these investors support because of financial considerations and challenges of a start-up business.
What we were not told until right before the vote, is that most of this start-up’s funding was based on federal grants, not on money they have raised themselves. Additionally, there was language in the contract that said if the federal dollars don’t come through, we the state of WV (meaning the taxpayers) will make up for the loss of those federal funds. There was also a recording of this company’s leadership discussing their goal of making coal fired plants obsolete. Some of the numbers reported changed throughout discussions. It was also brought up that the company investors included Bill Gates, someone who has done more than almost any individual to disparage fossil fuels, has pushed for policies that hurt the working poor. He has also supported the harsh crackdowns and covid mandates that led to such hardship for students and individuals, including loss of jobs. Furthermore, leadership decided to skip the committee process for this bill and put it directly to a vote on the floor, thereby reducing the ability to discuss these concerns in a transparent public forum.
I know Weirton, WV needs economic development projects and I am completely in favor of supporting worthy projects anywhere in WV. But the way this was done is just not something I could in good conscience support. I voted no, and I want to make sure that the reasons are known, and not speculated upon. Although I have received many emails and calls to urge me to vote no, my own conscience had more of an impact in this particular issue. We need to increase economic development and bring jobs to our state, but it should be done the right way and with businesses that are good investments.”