Budget Woes
4:39 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Senate Budget Uses $125 Million from Rainy Day Fund

Senate President Jeff Kessler meets with leadership during a floor session.
Senate President Jeff Kessler meets with leadership during a floor session.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Senators voted on their version of the budget bill Thursday.

It included the governor’s recommended pay raises for school service personnel and State Police forensic lab technicians, but Senate Bill 306 only accounts for the $837 teacher pay raise passed by the upper chamber. The House has changed that bill to include a $1,000 across the board raise.

But Finance Chair Senator Roman Prezioso explained the Senate has not yet voted on House Bill 4333, known as the Haircut Bill for short. The bill adjusts lottery appropriations of about $40 million to balance the budget.

Since the bill hasn’t made it out of committee yet, the Senate’s budget pulls more money from the Rainy Day Fund to pay for increases in Medicaid.

“The total amount of the Rainy Day Fund to be used toward Medicaid and balance this budget by $41.9 million,” Prezioso said on the floor, “recommending the total amount of the Rainy Day Fund that we’ll take out for the 2015 budget to $125.7 million.”

Prezioso said the governor and the budget office estimate the state can use up to $220 million without hurting the state’s bond rating.

“It’s our fear that when we come back next year, if there are not any revenue enhancements and we have to continue down the road of the Rainy Day Fund, it will truly jeopardize our bond rating,” he said, “which has severe implications not only for the state, but also for cities and counties that have those bonds outstanding.”

The bill passed on a 31 to 2 vote with Senators Carmichael and Barnes voting against it.

The bill, however, will not be taken up by the House. Instead, the two chambers will go to conference committee next week during the extended budget session.
 

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