By PHIL KABLER
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice’s proposal to significantly increase state funding for economic development and tourism is getting a warm reception in the West Virginia Legislature — a year after lawmakers slammed the door on nearly identical spending increases in the 2017 regular session.
“A year ago, we were in a $500 million budget crisis. There’s more of an appetite to consider these things this year,” Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, said of the change of attitude.
That would break a four-year stretch of budget shortfalls, mid-year spending cuts and, for the past two years, extended budget impasses.
Opening the 2018 regular session Wednesday evening, Justice proposed two big-ticket spending items, increasing funding for the state Development Office from $10 million to $45 million and increasing the Division of Tourism budget from about $6 million to $20 million.
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