CHARLESTON, W.Va. — In his sixth and final State of the State address Wednesday evening, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin acknowledged the current tough times in West Virginia, but urged the state to draw inspiration from “incredible West Virginians,” including NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson and world-class marathoner Clara Grant Santucci.
“As we look ahead at the challenges we must overcome this year, we are reminded that West Virginians have never had it easy,” Tomblin told a joint session of the House and Senate. “But we have proved time and again, for generations, what has been true all along — the people who call our state home are among the best and brightest in the world.”
The governor emphasized the positive in spite of the state’s difficult economic situation, highlighting accomplishments in economic development, workforce training, education, juvenile justice, and fighting the state’s substance abuse problems.
Facing state budget deficits totaling $800 million in the current and upcoming budget year, Tomblin called for “new ways to ensure our tax base is both more stable and more diverse,” including a 45-cent-a-pack increase in the state tax on cigarettes and a new 6 percent sales tax on cellphone and landline use.
Combined, those taxes would raise $131.5 million a year…