Setting the tone for legislators

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice appears to be holding his cards close to the vest. His specific plans for the legislative session that begins this week are less important than his leadership in general, however.

Journalists from throughout the state gathered Friday in Charleston for an event at which leading lawmakers were asked about their priorities for the 60-day regular session. Several times, they were asked how Justice stands on specific issues.

Invariably, their response is that they, and we, will just have to wait and see. The governor’s agenda will be laid out during his State of the State speech Wednesday, lawmakers said.

That is neither unusual nor troubling. Chief executives frequently do not reveal their plans in advance of major policy speeches.

In addition to specifics, however, Justice’s speech will set the general tone for the legislative session. That will have an impact on how lawmakers proceed.

Clearly, the attitude needs to be one of continuing to move West Virginia forward. This is not a time to play defense. An aggressive campaign of improving the state’s economy is both vital and achievable.

There are reasons to believe that will be Justice’s approach. Mountain State residents should be looking forward to his speech, then, not out of concern whether he plans a strategy of continuing progress but rather, of how he will approach it.