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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Gov. Joe Manchin delivers the State of the State Address

State of State
Gov. Joe Manchin delivers the State of the State Address, the second of his term, Wednesday night in the House chamber at the
n his second State of the State address Wednesday, Gov. Joe Manchin called for additional state efforts to provide affordable health care, urged lawmakers to bank nearly $600 million in state budget surpluses to deal with future funding crunches, and announced several economic development initiatives.

Key among them, Manchin announced the creation of a new technology park at Dow Chemical’s Tech Center in South Charleston.

The governor pledged to transform the current tech center into a “nationally recognized education, research and development center.” He described it as a joint effort among Dow, West Virginia University, WVU Tech and Marshall University.

As part of the initiative, Manchin said WVU Tech’s engineering program will move from Montgomery to South Charleston and will become a division of WVU’s College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.

Manchin’s litany of accomplishments for his first year in office and his agenda for this year’s legislative session were tempered by last week’s Sago Mine disaster. Manchin opened his 55-minute speech by honoring the “12 hard-working and brave West Virginians” who died in the Upshur County mine.

He also recognized the sole survivor of the mine disaster, Randal McCloy Jr., noting, “It is my hope that he can one day tell us his miracle story and the stories of his friends and co-workers.”

Despite the somber tone, Manchin called on lawmakers to build on what he called one of the most productive years in the state’s history.

As expected, Manchin’s agenda for his second regular session as governor will focus on health care. Manchin declared that every working West Virginian deserves access to “basic, affordable health care.”

He proposed a pilot project for up to 24 primary care clinics statewide to provide participants with checkups and basic care for low monthly fees.

The governor also proposed a public-private initiative for a health insurance program that would cover basic primary and preventive care services with premiums as low as $99 a month.

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