Gov. Jim Justice addresses budget deficit, education during State of the State

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WDTV) -- Governor Jim Justice addressed the people of the Mountain State for his first ever State of the State, Wednesday night.

Governor Jim Justice addresses budget deficit, education and tourism during 2017 State of the State.

"This is the most difficult and the biggest depression that we could ever imagine," said Governor Justice at the beginning of his speech. However, he outlined his plan to dig the state out of the hole it is currently in.

Justice used a white board to visually write out his plan to raise money in the Mountain State. He proposed government cuts and incremental tax increases to close the projected $500 million West Virginia budget deficit next year. He said to do so, every person in the state needs to pay half a penny more in sales tax. He also proposed a 10-cents-a-gallon increase in the gasoline tax. Justice said his goal is to "... be the eighth state in this country to have no income tax."

When it comes to education, Governor Justice said we need "gigantic" reform. He wants to "... eliminate any of the unnecessary bureaucracies that we have" and would like a two percent raise for classroom teachers. Justice wants to switch from Smarter Balanced testing to the ACTs and wants to get rid of the A through F grading system of schools. The basketball coach-turned-Governor said he is not a fan of consolidation.

Justice also touched on his plans for coal severance tax, the natural gas industry and tourism in the Mountain State. He said the state needs to do a better time advertising to bring people here.

"This situation is beyond dire," said Governor Justice. "There's real prosperity ahead of us. There's a way out."