Associated Press Published

Justice Sees $500M Projected State Budget Deficit Next Year

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

Gov. Jim Justice says state government is looking at a projected budget deficit of $500 million in the next fiscal year.

The governor tells the Beckley Register-Herald the funding gap would increase again the following year.

The Tomblin administration, which estimated a $400 million shortfall for the year starting July 1, proposed raising the state’s consumer sales tax 1 percent and imposed a 2 percent half-year spending cut under this year’s $4.1 billion budget.

Justice will issue his plan when the Legislature convenes Feb. 8.

Addressing the Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, Justice says the state is in poor economic shape despite a few bright spots.

He proposed tiers for taxing coal and natural gas production, instead of flat 5 percent, that rises as market prices rise.