3 Questions with Senate President Jeff Kessler - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

3 Questions with Senate President Jeff Kessler

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Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, is preparing for his fourth year at the helm of the West Virginia Senate.

He was appointed to the Senate in 1997 to fill a vacancy, and he was elected to the seat in 1998, then re-elected every four years. Kessler, an attorney, served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee for four legislative sessions.  

The State Journal: What will be the most-discussed topic during the upcoming legislative session?

Sen. Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall: "The biggest thing will be balancing the budget; we will have a balanced budget. The important thing we can do is to put the framework in place so we can create a fund (so) in the future we have a fund in place that will help diversify our economy and create wealth in the state."

However, Kessler said the budget could be a lingering problem throughout the session while choices about its fiscal impact are made during policy discussions.

"It's a balancing act," he said.

 TSJ: Pick an issue that you feel particularly passionate about. Why do you feel passionate about it and what do you hope happens with it?

Kessler: "It's all a matter of people; we need more educated and healthier people."

He said legislators will continue to work on substance abuse in the state, and passing the education bill last year was a start at creating a healthier workforce, but lawmakers must sustain an effort every year to keep those programs, continue to monitor, improve and tweak them.

"We passed the education bill last year, but it's not over," he said.

TSJ: What upcoming or potential issue do you think means the most to the Mountain State?

Kessler: "(Prescription drugs) are a huge epidemic in our state. It's an equal opportunity destroyer and doesn't just affect the high and mighty."

Kessler said prescription drugs are an important topic to all of the state,  and the problem doesn't care if you're rich, poor, white, black, Hispanic, male or female.

"It attacks everybody, and until we get a handle on that it affects our job growth, employment opportunities and it's a drain on our taxes," he said.