<strong>By Phil Kabler<\/strong>\r\n<strong>For WV Press Association<\/strong>\r\n\r\nGov. Jim Justice\u2019s latest effort to promote his plan to help close a $500 million shortfall in the 2017-18 state budget, in part, by raising about $350 million in new taxes left legislative leaders seeing red - literally.\r\n\r\nDeclaring that the Legislature\u2019s plan to cut the general revenue budget to $4.05 billion - about $390 million less than the current budget - would cause a health emergency in the state, Justice ordered the lighting of the lantern in the state Capitol dome - a light historically lit during declared states of emergency.\r\n\r\nNot only that, but Justice had the light bulbs in the lamp changed from white to a more attention-getting red.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe are going to let the people know we have a health crisis beyond belief. There are thousands and thousands and thousands that are going to be devastated,\u201d the governor said of the legislative proposal to cut the \u201cbig three\u201d items of the state budget - K-12 public education, higher education, and the Department of Health and Human Resources - by about $50 million each.\r\n\r\nHouse Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, and Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, denounced the lighting of the Capitol dome lantern as a stunt, and Armstead called it disrespectful to victims of natural disasters, including those hit by flooding in central and southeastern parts of the state last June.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe people of West Virginia expect better from their governor,\u201d Armstead said. \u201cBullying isn\u2019t leadership. Building consensus around the right plan for our state is leadership.\r\n\r\n\u201cIf the governor wants to work with us to solve this problem in a responsible and productive manner, we remain willing to work with him,\u201d Armstead added, \u201cbut the clock is ticking, and we don\u2019t have time to play games.\u201d\r\n\r\nCarmichael went on to say Justice\u2019s action amounted to declaring war on state taxpayers by demanding that they pay higher taxes.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe deeds this governor today show a person who is dangerously unprepared to lead this state, and someone who has a deep disrespect for constitutional government and the hardworking, taxpaying citizens who elected him,\u201d he said. \u201cThis Legislature will not stand by and allow the taxpayers to be used as collateral, or to be disrespected any longer.\u201d\r\n\r\nLate in the week, the House and Senate Finance committees took up versions of the governor\u2019s tax increase bill, but gutted almost everything out of the bills.\r\n\r\nThe House left the governor\u2019s proposal to raise the state beer tax from $5.50 to $8 a barrel to raise $2.8 million a year, while the Senate retained a portion to shift about $11.7 million a year of tax dollars that now goes to the state Road Fund to the general revenue budget.\r\n\r\nBoth Finance Committees also advanced bills that would free up $15 million a year of state Lottery profits that go to subsidize racing purses at the state\u2019s two greyhound racetrack casinos.\r\n\r\nThis is the third straight year the Legislature has attempted to eliminate the greyhound subsidy, which is funded through a percentage of racetrack casino video lottery profits.\r\n\r\nIn 2014, the Legislature commissioned a study that found the subsidies account for about 95 percent of greyhound racing purses, as live wagering and attendance at the two racetracks has plummeted from the heyday of greyhound racing in the mid-1980s.\r\n\r\nOpponents of the legislation say it put people out of work and could cost the state more in unemployment compensation payments than it saves in the racing subsidy.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe\u2019re going to lose a lot of people. We\u2019re going to lose a lot of jobs, and we\u2019re going to lose a lot of economic impact,\u201d said Steve Sarras, president of the West Virginia Kennel Owners Association.\r\n\r\nThe legislation sets aside $1 million to promote adoption of greyhounds bred for racing, and to cover costs of placing greyhounds in no-kill animal shelters pending adoption.\r\n\r\nMeanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bill Justice is seeking to reorganize the state Division of Tourism - but with an amendment that would require the administration to sell bonds to build lodges at Cacapon and Beech Fork state parks by Jan. 1.\r\n\r\nIf the bonds aren\u2019t sold, all state funding for tourism advertising would be cut off until the projects are funded. Justice has advocated for increasing funding for tourism advertising and promotion, saying the current budget is too small to effectively grow state tourism.