By PHIL KABLER
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Eleven months after giving an unconventional State of the State address, which consisted of an unscripted 52-minute talk complete with a whiteboard and references to Frankenstein’s monster, Gov. Jim Justice is set for an encore tonight at 7.
Last year, the then-freshman governor gave few advance clues about his speech — legislators went into the address anticipating that he would propose major state spending cuts, only to have Justice declare the state to be in an “18-karat dog mess,” and propose $400 million in tax increases to bail it out.
This year, Justice is again playing his cards close to the vest — the Governor’s Office did not respond to a request for comment about the speech — but circumstances have changed dramatically since that first address, on Feb. 8, 2017.
After battling with the Republican-controlled Legislature over a budget impasse that stretched into June, Justice, in August, changed his party affiliation back to Republican. More importantly, instead of facing a nearly $500 million budget shortfall going into the 2017 session, state revenue collection is running in the black.
Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, said Tuesday that he anticipates an optimistic tone for Justice’s second State of the State address.
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