Justice unveils initiatives and first budget proposal during State of the State

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – Gov. Jim Justice has proposed government cuts and incremental tax increases to close a projected $500 million West Virginia budget deficit next year.

The newly elected Democrat also wants a 2 percent raise for classroom teachers and $1.4 billion in bonding for highway programs he says would create thousands of jobs.

His proposed general revenue budget unveiled Wednesday would rise to about $4.8 billion. Total spending, including federal and other dedicated funds, would be $12.9 billion.

He would set aside $105 million for economic development and infrastructure investment.

The Republican-controlled Legislature’s leaders have advocated cuts to help close the gap and eliminating certain sales tax exemptions.

Justice called for those plus a half-percent sales tax increase, 0.2 percent tax on commercial gross revenues and 10-cents-a-gallon increase in the gasoline tax.

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