CHARLESTON– Governor Jim Justice has announced the termination of Gayle Manchin, Secretary of Education and the Arts.
Justice says he fired Manchin, who is also the wife of democratic U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, because she defied the orders of Chief of Staff Mike Hall when she released a statement regarding House Bill 4006. The bill currently sits on the governor’s desk waiting for his signature or veto. If signed, it would dismantle the State Department of Education and the Arts.
The department’s agencies include Culture and History, Public Broadcasting, the Center for Professional Development, the Library Commission, Rehabilitation Services and Volunteer West Virginia. Those would either be absorbed by other departments or continue as separate agencies within the executive branch.
Gayle Manchin’s statement released this afternoon said,
“In an obvious rush to score partisan points, the Republican state legislature passed dangerous and destructive legislation to eliminate the Office of Education and the Arts on a mostly party-line vote. This is a cabinet post that reports directly to the governor and serves thousands across our state; it helps the disabled, provides summer programs for our children through federal funding, and many others that touch families all over West Virginia.
I call on the Governor to veto this reckless and politically motivated legislation that the state legislature passed, or work with me to dissolve this agency, if that’s what he wants to do, in a responsible and compassionate way. It’s obvious that there aren’t any significant financial savings here; we need to get the politics out of this.
I do not believe that a partisan fight is in the best interest of West Virginia. In fact, I know that signing this legislation will hurt our children, seniors, veterans, the disabled, and disaster response training. In addition, it eliminates a statewide advocacy for the arts.
I want to sit down with the Governor, and if it helps, I’ll resign to remove any political pressure to save all of these important programs for West Virginians.”
The Governor released a statement explaining the firing of Manchin saying, “We have not made a decision yet on legislation (HB 4006) to reorganize the Department of the Education and the Arts,” Gov. Justice said. “Earlier today, Secretary Manchin asked the Chief of Staff, Mike Hall, about how she should approach this. She was told by the Chief of Staff to do nothing based upon my public comments this morning, and that my decision to veto or sign this bill has not been made. Later in the day, she decided to defy the Chief of Staff’s instructions and issued a press release. In her press release she offered to resign and remove any political cloud. If there weren’t any earlier political cloud, now there surely is one. She was very critical, made it political, and put me in a very, very bad position.
“She was told that we accepted her resignation, she refused, and we terminated her.
“As I have been saying for the last several days, we are continuing to examine this legislation looking for cost savings, how to preserve and promote the arts, and to make absolutely, positively certain that none of the programs or our citizens will be harmed in any way. And we will continue to do exactly that.
“I sincerely appreciate the years of service Secretary Manchin has given to the State of West Virginia.”
No word yet on what Justice’s decision will be regarding HB 4006.