West Virginia gov proposes cutting Social Security tax

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice is proposing the elimination of a state tax on Social Security benefits but offering significant funding increases for substance abuse, social services and tourism in the next fiscal year.

"We have things that are so good," said Justice. "We have surpluses and no new taxes."

Justice gave his third State of the State address Wednesday night as revenue figures continue to improve two years after the state was mired in a budget crisis. Figures released Tuesday showed revenue collections were $186 million ahead of estimates at current fiscal year's midpoint.

If passed, eliminating the Social Security tax would mean a $50 million reduction in revenue collected.

The budget includes an additional $25 million for substance abuse programs, $20 million each for social services and state building maintenance and $14 million more for tourism.

Justice also is proposing another 5 percent pay increase for teachers and other state employees.