- Associated Press - Monday, February 29, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has approved coal and natural gas tax breaks.

The Democrat signed a bill Monday dropping severance surtaxes of 56 cents per ton of coal and 4.7 cents per thousand cubic feet of natural gas.

They’ve helped pay a workers’ compensation debt for years.

Tomblin proposed dropping them July 1, or earlier at his discretion. The Republican-led Legislature passed Tomblin’s bill.

Until July 1, the money can help cover this year’s $384 million budget gap.

Tomblin’s administration expects the cut to reduce coal revenue by $51.5 million and natural gas revenue by $58.1 million for the 2017 budget.

A Senate panel gave initial approval Monday to dropping coal’s overall severance tax from 5 to 4 percent in July 2018, and 3 percent in July 2019.

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