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Tomblin address to focus on economy, education

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Continuing efforts to promote economic development and improve public schools will highlight Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's fourth State of the State address Wednesday evening, spokeswoman Amy Schuler Goodwin said Tuesday.

"He'll be talking about our commitment to our students," she said. "He'll also be talking about the great gains we've made in our economic development agenda."

As drafted, his 7 p.m. speech to a joint assembly of the Legislature in the House chamber is also on pace to be his second shortest address, coming in at about 4,700 words, Goodwin said.

The second 60-day regular session of the 81st Legislature will convene at noon Wednesday and will mark the first time House Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison, will preside over a floor session. The Legislature has not been in session since Miley was elected speaker in June, replacing Speaker Rick Thompson, who resigned to accept appointment as secretary of the Department of Veterans Assistance.

However, the highlight of the first day of the session will be the governor's annual address.

Tomblin's agenda for public school reform dominated his 2013 State of the State address, and ultimately most of his proposals were adopted by the Legislature, with legislation expanding pre-kindergarten programs, revising teacher hiring regulations, and expanding the school calendar to help assure 180 instructional days.

A key concern for legislators this session will be closing an estimated $250 million funding gap in the 2014-15 budget, and Tomblin will discuss the shortfall in his speech, Goodwin said.

"The governor will address some of our budget issues," she said.

The speech will also highlight improving state services for military veterans, she said.

Tomblin's address will be broadcast statewide, and will be streamed live at the governor's website, www.governor.wv.gov. Also this year, the Governor's Office will live tweet the address, available by following #WVSOTS14 on Twitter.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.


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