CHARLESTON– After recounting his administration’s efforts to deal with the coal industry’s downturn, a drug epidemic and budget shortfalls, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin in his farewell address has also proposed a new state budget.
The 64-year-old Tomblin, a Democrat, leaves after two terms and six years in office.
He received a standing ovation before a joint session of the House of Delegates and the state Senate that he formerly led. Both now have Republican majorities.
Tomblin says they have attracted other businesses to diversify West Virginia’s economy, increased treatment for drug abuse now regarded as an illness not a crime, cut the budget by $600 million and cut several taxes.
“When I became your governor, I said we must put West Virginia first and that is what we have done,” Tomblin said. “I encourage you to continue working together and have that deep devotion to our state in the coming year and beyond. I’m proud of the work we have accomplished. I look forward to the leadership of governor-elect Jim Justice and I thank all of you who have worked with me over the years.”
To balance next year’s budget, Tomblin is proposing a 1 percent increase in the state’s consumer sales tax. Tomblin will be followed by democratic Governor- Elect Jim Justice, whose inauguration is scheduled for Monday.