CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- State Democratic lawmakers praised Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's proposals Wednesday to improve schools and overhaul prisons.
But Republican legislators criticized the governor, saying he did not say enough in his State of the State address about bringing jobs to West Virginia.
"I was very disappointed in the absence of any real proposals to put people back to work," said House Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha. "We need to recognize there's an economic crisis."
Tomblin did mention several proposals designed to help businesses. The governor talked about giving small businesses more flexibility with employee payroll reports.
Tomblin also plans to establish a public nonprofit corporation that will identify land suitable for environmental remediation and economic development.
Delegate Gary Howell, R-Mineral, called that proposal outdated.
"We've got industrial parks all over the state, but they're all empty," Howell said. "All I heard was let's do more of what doesn't work. Our [business] tax structures are messed up, and that's where we need to make changes."
Tomblin's education proposals drew strong praise from Democrats, while Republicans said they'd like to see more details.
An education efficiency audit -- released more than a year ago -- recommended sweeping changes to schools and the state Department of Education.
House Education Committee Chairwoman Mary Poling said she hopes the education efficiency audit doesn't dominate the discussion over education reform.
"I want to take the focus off the audit and be sure we focus on measures that will improve student learning," said Poling, D-Barbour. "Just to do it because it saves money, I don't want that to be our focus."
In his speech, the governor also said he supports the state school board's push to bring vocational-technical programs into middle schools, while upgrading such programs in high schools.
"I like the idea of engaging those kids before they drop out of school," said House Speaker Rick Thompson, D-Wayne.
Tomblin also wants to put the state school board over professional development, and give teachers and principals more say in teacher hiring.
The governor also addressed the school calendar, saying that state law must be changed so that snow days no longer count as instructional days.