Justice's Budget Not Included in Special Session Agenda

May 3, 2017

Gov. Jim Justice during a Save Our State Tour event in Fairmont.
Credit Jesse Wright

Governor Jim Justice has not included a budget bill on his call for a special session set to begin Thursday.

Justice’s office released the call that includes five bills Wednesday afternoon.

On it are bills to raise Division of Motor Vehicles fees and the gasoline tax, as well as a bill to extend the tolls on the state turnpike.

The special session agenda will include a bill to increase teacher salaries, and of course a bill authorizing lawmakers to pay for the session itself.

The most complex of the five bills is one to restructure the state’s personal income, consumer sales, and severance taxes. That bill will likely look like one approved in the state Senate earlier this year, decreasing the number of income tax brackets while setting benchmarks to phase out the tax altogether.

According to the proclamation calling lawmakers back into session, the bill also includes measures to increase the sales tax and impose graduated coal and natural gas severance tax rates.

But the special session call itself does not include a budget bill, the only bill lawmakers are required to pass by the end of the fiscal year on June 30. Without it, the state faces a potential government shutdown.

Justice can amend the call at any point during the special session, though, meaning he could add a budget bill once revenue measures are approved by lawmakers.