Economy, taxes, and health care highlight several key topics of State of the State Address

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – It was a lengthy speech in which Governor Jim Justice discussed everything from the economy, to foster care, to the opioid crisis. He wants to spend a lot of money on all of it, but will it be enough?

Governor Justice entered the joint session of the legislature to applause. Early, he mentioned how much better the state economy is currently compared to three years ago, with unemployment now way down, and employment and business income taxes on the rise.

“It’s a great, great evening in the state of West Virginia. And I bless you in every way, and I thank you in every way,” remarked the Governor.

The Governor also said it’s time to get rid of the state’s business inventory and equipment tax, and republican leaders agree.

“Many governors and renowned economists have identified that tax as the single biggest job killing tax we have,” comments State Senator Mitch Carmichael.

The Governor is also proposing to hire 87 new case workers for the state’s overworked foster care system that is now overloaded with 7,000 kids to care for. Some say it’s not enough.

“We cut CPS so much in the past. Now we’re going to have to go back and hire more CPS workers. So we’re trying to fix it,” says State Senator Ron Stollings.

And after two years of 5 percent pay raises, there was no discussion of that for state workers or teachers.

“We have a lot we have to do in this session. We still have to make our salaries competitive with the contiguous states. We still have to continue that,” comments Dale Lee of the West Virginia Education Association.

At one point, Governor Justice asked everyone to wear orange highway vests after he announced 147 million new dollars for additional road repairs.

The big question now is will the state have enough money for all of this? This is only day one of the legislative session, and we’ll have 59 more days to find out.

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