By JONATHAN MATTISE
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin used his last State of the State address to call for reinvestment in West Virginia’s ravaged coal communities.
The Democrat’s speech Wednesday beckoned the Republican-led Legislature to consider election-year tax increases on tobacco and phone services. Revenue from unearthing coal and natural gas has dropped substantially.
Tomblin’s call for tax increases comes as the state faces a $381 million budget gap this year and a $466 million gap in 2017.
Tomblin said West Virginia wants to develop the largest industrial site in state history at a former surface mine in Boone and Lincoln counties.
He said West Virginia wants to cash in on the “substantial IOU” the country owes its coal miners.
Tomblin is reaching his two-consecutive term limit.
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