Budget Woes

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, Statehouse Reporter Ashton Marra reports from the Capitol after lawmakers returned for a special budget session last week.

And we hear from the Ohio Valley Resource's Mary Meehan who reports on the addiction crisis in the Ohio Valley which is causing another health problem in the region - a heart infection called endocarditis.

Daryl Cowles
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Eastern Panhandle lawmakers met for a Legislative Wrap-Up panel in Martinsburg Thursday, and figuring out the 2018 state budget was at the forefront of lawmakers’ minds.

Tim Armstead, Eric Nelson
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Members in the House of Delegates have approved their budget bill for fiscal year 2018 – bringing $140 million additional dollars in revenue and making $75 million in cuts to government agencies. The House’s budget is largely based on revenue brought in under a Senate bill that was drastically changed by the chamber’s finance committee.

Shawn Fluharty
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The House of Delegates has passed a bill that would effectively put an end to greyhound racing in the state, according to its opponents. Senate Bill 437 discontinues the Greyhound Breeding and Development Fund, putting about $14 million back into excess lottery revenue accounts for lawmakers to appropriate in the upcoming fiscal year. The bill was approved last week in the Senate on a 19 to 15 vote.

Jeff Eldridge
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A bill to eliminate the West Virginia Greyhound Breeding Development Fund is making its way through the House. It’s been on second reading, or the amendment stage, since Tuesday, but due to a laundry list of amendments and some heated debate, consideration was postponed until Thursday.

Eric Nelson
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The West Virginia House of Delegates has killed another revenue increasing bill – one that would’ve generated an estimated $215 million in three years.

Pat McGeehan
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The West Virginia House of Delegates has killed a bill that leadership says was one of the keys to balancing the 2018 budget. The bill was presented on behalf of Governor Jim Justice and originally would have raised $450 million in new taxes but drastically changed as it worked through the committee process.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Delegates in the House Finance committee met Saturday afternoon to hear yet another budget proposal from Republican leadership. Earlier this month, House and Senate leaders released their budget framework, but not a budget bill.

House of Delegates
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photograhy

The House of Delegates passed a bill that would end the Racetrack Modernization Fund three years early.

The fund was created by the Legislature in 2011 to provide matching dollars for the state’s four racetrack casinos to upgrade video lottery and other digital games.

Jason Barrett, Erikka Storch
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

As lawmakers try to find ways to deal with the state’s financial problems, the House Finance Committee discussed a bill that could put $9 million back in the budget. The bill originating in the House’s Finance Committee would end the Racetrack Modernization Fund.

On The Legislature Today, Governor Jim Justice is declaring a symbolic State of Emergency in West Virginia due to Republican plans to cut Medicaid dollars.

Legislative leaders released their budget framework last week that would cut the program by $50 million, they say. Justice say the cuts will result in a healthcare crisis in the state.

On The Legislature Today, education is once again debated on the Senate floor, but this time the education chair shares concerns over a bill he’s sponsoring.

In the House, delegates progress a Right-to-Work bill one that makes changes to the current law being challenged in the state’s court system.

And advocates are pushing second chance laws that they say will help felons reintegrate into their communities and keep them out of prison in the future.

Those stories and more on The Legislature Today.

Ed Evans
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The West Virginia Courtesy Patrol is a state funded roadside assistance service. But as members in the House continue to look for places to cut to balance the 2018 budget, delegates have set their sights on the program’s $5 million budget.

The courtesy patrol has been around for almost 20 years. It’s a non-profit of the Citizens Conservation Corp through a contract with the West Virginia Division of Highways.To-date, the patrol has received over 3 million calls and employs nearly 100 people.

Eric Householder
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The West Virginia Department of Commerce gave the House and Senate Finance committees a presentation Monday morning to explore the state's competitiveness in attracting businesses.

The Commerce department also asked for a significant increase in its funding. However, that request collided with the reality of the state’s dire budget situation.

Kayla Kessinger
Perry Bennett / WV Legislative Photography

Members in the House voted on a bill Thursday that would terminate the West Virginia Women’s Commission and put roughly $150,000 back into the general revenue budget. 

The West Virginia Women’s Commission was created by the state Legislature in 1977. It’s a small, bi-partisan program under the state Department of Health and Human Resources that advocates, educates, and promotes women’s issues.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The House voted on two education-related bills Tuesday – one that would give The West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind access to the School Building Authority and another aimed at giving higher education institutions more control of their own affairs.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Delegates are beginning to consider bills that would cut some state agencies, no matter how big or how small they are. Members of one committee Friday looked at a bill that would put an end to an agency that receives about $150,000 in annual funding.

House Bill 2646 would get rid of the West Virginia Women’s Commission. It’s a small state agency with just two employees, one of whom works part-time. The House Government Organization Committee considered the bill Friday morning – where its sponsors defended the proposal.

Perry Bennett / WV Legislative Photography

While lawmakers discuss ways to fix the state’s projected budget deficit, a related piece of legislation is beginning to take shape -- the creation of a state earned income tax credit.

An earned income tax credit, or EITC, is an extra lump of cash refunded to low-income, working families every year at tax time. The amount a family receives varies, but it’s based on a person’s income and the number of children in the home, but only working adults qualify. The credit is meant to help struggling families get ahead and many use the extra funds to make major purchases like cars, or large appliances.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Gov. Jim Justice has asked lawmakers to do a politically unpopular thing this state Legislative session -- raise taxes. But legislative leaders say they are still on the hunt for cuts to state government. Both the House and Senate Finance committees held meetings Thursday and heard from the Governor’s budget team, who attempted to convince lawmakers to see things the governor’s way.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Governor Jim Justice’s State of the State address brought a mixed bag of reactions Wednesday night. And from the majority party, it wasn’t exactly a happy one.

A lot of things were different in Governor Justice’s State of the State address Wednesday. It could be said his speech was unique compared to past governors. For one, he gave his speech out on the floor instead of at the House Clerk’s desk. Two, he used a whiteboard to break down some of the proposals in his speech and even had some volunteers walk in to demonstrate a part of the presentation.

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