EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSGov. Tomblin Says State Of WV Is Strong
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported: Jan. 8, 2014 9:17 PM EST
Updated: Jan. 9, 2014 9:34 AM EST
Charleston, W.Va. (Kera Mashek) - It's no secret that West Virginia finds itself near the bottom of a lot of rankings. Still, Governor Tomblin insists the state is on the right track, making strides in economic development, education and curbing the drug problem. But there are still major hurdles to cross this year.
"Make no mistake my fellow West Virginians, the state of our state is strong," Gov. Tomblin said.
In a packed house Wednesday night, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin delivered an encouraging message to lawmakers and the public. But there's a heavy focus on the economy, continuing to build on the success of a manufacturing industry that's grown by $2 billion dollars in the past two years and utilizing the environment's potential to create jobs here at home.
"I'm also excited about looking into the possibility of growing our natural resources, our environmental sector and developing the Marcellus Shale, and attracting more and more cracker plants to the area," said Delegate Doug Skaff (D-South Charleston).
But some lawmakers are concerned that growing the economy means spending more money and increasing taxes to foot the bill. Governor Tomblin insists that won't happen.
"We can attract more jobs and develop a broader tax base to meet our demands for goods and services without raising taxes. We've planted the seeds for small business by phasing out the business franchise tax next year, cutting the corporate income tax and reducing workers compensation rates," Tomblin said.
That's music to the ears of many Republicans.
"When they want to create a new program, well let's just tax people more and that's the wrong approach. The people of West Virginia cannot afford more taxation. They're having a hard enough time making ends meet as it is," said
Delegate Tim Armstead, (R) Elkview.
To help train tomorrow's workforce, Governor Tomblin also keyed in on needed improvements to education.
"To make it easier for students to pursue a technical education without having to shuttle between technical centers and schools, I included funding in the budget to locate math and English teachers in our career centers. I want to minimize obstacles for our students who pursue a career-technical education," Gov. Tomblin said.
The biggest challenge will be funding any new initiatives..along with everyday expenses, with flat tax revenues and a deficit that could top $100 million.
"Our budget is strained. However, we must invest in our future-sow the seeds for tomorrow- and invest in our children," said Tomblin.
Now the legislature will begin the hard work of trying to make that happen.
The good news in the state's financial picture is that the reserve fund is now sitting at over $920 million. That cushion has only been building over the past eight years but could be tapped into with the predicted money pinch this year.
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