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Tomblin gains praise from senator

January 13, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com
  • Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin talks to players of the state championship football team Thursday at Martinsburg High School in Martinsburg, W.Va. Tomblin was in Martinsburg Thursday for a roundtable discussion with U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller on economic development.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller in Martinsburg on Wednesday praised acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin as a "terrific leader," and West Virginia's senior senator said he hoped there would not be a special election for governor in 2011.

"I don't say that politically. It just doesn't make sense, does it?," Rockefeller told a large group of Eastern Panhandle elected officials and business leaders gathered for a roundtable discussion on economic development.

Seated next to Tomblin in Berkeley County Council Chambers, Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said he really believes in the governor, with whom he has worked with for many years.

Rockefeller was was the state's 29th governor before being elected senator in 1984.

Tomblin, who was elected to his ninth term as state Senate president on Wednesday, has been serving as acting governor since former Gov. Joe Manchin resigned after being elected to the U.S. Senate last fall. The state Constitution requires that the president of the state Senate act as the state's chief executive when a governor leaves office before his or her term expires.

In opening remarks to the group, Tomblin highlighted a number of topics in the State of the State address he gave to lawmakers on Wednesday night.

"The No. 1 thing is job creation," Tomblin said. "I think West Virginia ... is just in a great position right now."

In his 37 years in politics, the Logan County Democrat said the state is in better shape than all but a few other states.

Tomblin said Manchin, who is serving the unexpired term of the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, deserved credit for the state's fiscal health and indicated he intended to continue the former governor's fiscal conservative approach in managing state resources.

Tomblin also reiterated his remarks about the state's role in the successful effort to bring Macy's Inc. to Berkeley County. The retail giant chose a Martinsburg-area site from about 160 locations to build a new 1.3 million-square foot facility to fulfill orders for items sold via the Internet for Macy's and Bloomingdale's stores, Tomblin said.

Macy's investment tops $150 million, and Tomblin told lawmakers Wednesday that the development would lead to the creation of 900 full-time, 300 part-time and an additional 700 seasonal jobs.

Tomblin cited his proposals to "tweak" the state's tax increment financing program and create a sales tax credit for fulfillment center investments like Macy's when questioned by Jefferson County Commissioner Lyn Widmyer. Widmyer asked about whether the state could offer more incentives or tax credits to businesses in "new, coming of age technologies" versus traditional manufacturing sectors.

The sales tax credit legislation proposes the removal of sales tax on construction materials and equipment at the time a large investment like Macy's would come to the state, said Mark Julian of the West Virginia Development Office, who was traveling with Tomblin.

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