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    Justice sees $500M projected state budget deficit next year

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    BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) – Gov. Jim Justice says state government is looking at a projected budget deficit of $500 million in the next fiscal year.

    The governor tells the Beckley Register-Herald the funding gap would increase again the following year.

    The Tomblin administration, which estimated a $400 million shortfall for the year starting July 1, proposed raising the state’s consumer sales tax 1 percent and imposed a 2 percent half-year spending cut under this year’s $4.1 billion budget.

    Justice will issue his plan when the Legislature convenes Feb. 8.

    Addressing the Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, Justice says the state is in poor economic shape despite a few bright spots.

    He proposed tiers for taxing coal and natural gas production, instead of flat 5 percent, that rises as market prices rise.

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