2017 Legislature

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Gov. Jim Justice has unveiled a revised budget plan to close the projected $500 million state deficit by raising taxes on sugary soft drinks and cigarettes, revising pension contributions and reducing previously proposed fractional sales and corporate tax hikes.

He's still calling for major highway reconstruction to boost the state economy, funded by bonding seeded with revised taxes and fees. He says it would create 48,000 jobs.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice waves to the crowd as he delivers his inauguration speech, Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, in Charleston, W.Va.
Walter Scriptunas II / AP Photo

Gov. Jim Justice is calling for legislation to give him authority to furlough state workers to help address the government's budget deficits.

The recently elected Democratic governor earlier proposed tapping the state's rainy day fund to close a projected $123 million gap in the current fiscal year.

Is Justice Tax Plan DOA in the Legislature?

Feb 16, 2017
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

"In a rhetorical flourish almost certainly unlike any in the history of West Virginia gubernatorial oratory, Jim Justice spread his arms wide and moaned in an impression of Frankenstein’s monster."

That's how WV Metronews reporter Brad McElhinny described the end of Gov. Jim Justice's State of the State address. Justice was making a point about the state budget mess, a deficit of almost $500 million.

West Virginia Legislative Services

West Virginia's House of Delegates had amended its rules to require all witnesses appearing before its committees must be sworn in before testifying or answering lawmakers' question.

The amended rule requires every house committee to administer oaths to anyone appearing before a committee.

Flickr / davidwilson1949

West Virginia lawmakers returning to work shortly will find the state in the same position as last year — resource rich and cash poor. And though gas, not coal, is now the increasingly abundant resource, the budgeting challenges don't look all that different from the past.

The state projects a government budget deficit of $400 million next year amid anemic tax collections. Meanwhile, some 18 percent of West Virginia's 1.8 million people live under the federal poverty line and the unemployment rate hovers at 6 percent, fully a point higher than the national average.