CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's fourth State of the State address emphasized accomplishments over new initiatives for the 2014 legislative session.
In a 44-minute address Wednesday evening to a joint session of the Legislature in the House chamber, Tomblin stressed that he believes the state of West Virginia is strong.
"We pay our bills on time, and we've invested in the future by continuing to work together as we face future challenges," Tomblin said.
Tomblin emphasized accomplishments that include operating a fiscally sound government, attracting economic development, improving public schools, reducing prison overcrowding and confronting the state's epidemic of drug abuse.
Facing what he called a strained budget year, Tomblin proposed only a few initiatives for the Legislature to take up during the 60-day regular session. Among them:
• Pay raises of 2 percent for teachers and school service personnel, and a "modest" $504 raise for state government employees.
"We must invest in our future -- sow the seeds for tomorrow -- and invest in our children and those called to public service," Tomblin said in proposing the pay raises. Both proposals drew applause from legislators.
• Have the state Board of Education implement an A-to-F grading system for public schools. "It is a rating system we can all understand. This rating system will provide a better indicator of school-wide achievement," the governor said.
• Reconstitute the STEM Commission to promote student interest in science, technology, engineering and math.
"Emphasis on STEM in education will prepare our children for tomorrow's jobs," Tomblin said. "It will develop skilled workers and professionals for qualified employment."