State Budget

On The Legislature Today, we bring you a special hour-long broadcast from the Capitol building in Charleston. Host Andrea Lannom chats with House Finance Chairman Del. Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha, and House Finance Vice Chairman Del. Mick Bates, D-Raleigh, on the status of budget discussions with only one day left in the regular 2018 state Legislative session. We also look back at some of the major issues that unfolded over the last two months in our reporter roundtable.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The West Virginia Legislature is set to vote on a 2018-19 state budget on the final day of the 2018 regular session. The $4.38 billion spending plan accounts for an across-the-board average 5-percent pay raise for all public employees and makes cuts to programs that had earlier seen proposed increases by Gov. Jim Justice. The budget will allow for $156 million in spending as compared to the previous fiscal year.

Capitol Dome, Capitol, Legislature
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

West Virginia officials say weaker results in January have caused state tax collections for the first seven months of the fiscal year to lag 1 percent behind original estimates.

Capitol
Kristi George / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

For the first time in five years, West Virginia revenue collections are reported to be above estimates at the fiscal year halfway mark.

State revenue officials say West Virginia’s overall cumulative collections in the General Revenue Fund are over $100 million ahead of where the state was this time last year. And the state is above estimates at the fiscal year halfway mark for the first time since December 2012.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia is on track to meet its budget estimates for this fiscal year.

In a press call with reporters, Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy said the state’s General Revenue Fund is 4.5 percent ahead of where it was this time last year – and overall budget estimates for this fiscal year are, so far, on target.

Editor's Note: This is a developing story. For more, visit our live blog on the latest from the final night of the Legislature's Regular Session. 

Just two hours before the end of the 60th and final day of the 83rd West Virginia Legislature's First Regular Session, Governor Jim Justice said he and Senate President Mitch Carmichael have struck a deal to run a revenue bill that would help push through a budget before midnight.

“To just tell it like it is, I’ve been really pessimistic for the last 36 hours. Until about 2 o’clock today. About 2 o’clock today, the momentum changed and all of the sudden there became a real hope and real optimism,” said Justice during a 10 p.m. Saturday news conference in the Governor’s Reception Room.

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.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

State revenue officials say West Virginia didn’t end the 2016 fiscal year quite as badly off as they predicted, but they’re still calling it the worst budget year in decades. 

Department of Revenue Secretary Bob Kiss said in a conference call with reporters Friday his office predicted the state would end the 2016 fiscal year at the end of June some $464 million below revenue estimates. 

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed eight bills Friday, including the budget for the 2017 fiscal year lawmakers spent nearly a month in a special session crafting. 

The budget bill includes cuts to state agencies and Constitutional Officers as well as the use of one-time Rainy Day Funds to find a balance. 

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has a proposal to offset health premium increases for state employees, retirees and teachers.

Tomblin said Sunday he'd introduce legislation with $15 million extra for Public Employee Insurance Agency beneficiaries if the GOP-led Legislature passes his tobacco tax increase.

Nineteen days before a potential government shutdown, the West Virginia Senate passed a budget Saturday on a 24-7 vote. With coal revenues in decline in recent years, state lawmakers have been scrambling to fill a $270 million hole.

The Senate’s version of the budget bill, SB 1013, uses $64.5 million in monies from the Rainy Day Fund.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

  Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has added an additional bill to his special session call for state lawmakers to consider- a bill reducing funding for the state infrastructure fund.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography


June 30. That’s the day the Governor’s Office, members of the Legislature, even members of the media say is the final day lawmakers can approve a budget for the 2017 fiscal year and that’s technically true.

 

That is the day by which lawmakers must approve a budget to avoid a government shutdown, but state officials whose jobs are to implement the budget say that's not soon enough.

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A spokesman for the House of Delegates says lawmakers will tentatively return to Charleston Saturday to once again work on the state's budget for the 2017 fiscal year.

On Wednesday, Gov. Tomblin vetoed the budget plan approved by lawmakers on June 2. That plan relied on more than $180 million from the state's Rainy Day Fund to help close a $272 million budget gap for the upcoming fiscal year. 

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Tax collections for the month of May were stronger than expected, according to Revenue Secretary Bob Kiss.

In a press release, Kiss said general revenue collections were up 12 percent when compared to those collected in May 2015 and some $28 million above the month’s estimates.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A spokesman says Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will veto the Republican-led Legislature's entire budget.

Spokesman Chris Stadelman said Friday that Tomblin will work with lawmakers on a plan that doesn't mortgage West Virginia's future.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Thirteen days into their special session, lawmakers have approved a bill to fund state government for the 2017 fiscal year that relies heavily on one-time monies to close the $272 million budget gap.

The bill moved quickly Thursday, being approved in the Senate on a party line vote, 18-16, in the early evening and receiving a 58-30 vote in the House just a few hours later.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A mere 24 hours after the Senate Finance Committee floated a bill to increase the state’s consumer sales tax by 1 percent, which would bring in $196 million in new revenues to close the $272 million gap in the 2017 budget, the bill died after a 6-10 vote.

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A Senate Finance Committee meeting was abruptly canceled Wednesday morning after closed door meetings led to all but one Democratic member of the committee walking out.

The committee was set to discuss amendments to a bill that would increase the state’s consumer sales tax by 1 percent, bringing in $196 million to help close a $272 million hole in the 2017 budget.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography


After calls from members of the Democratic Party, Senate leaders have decided to move forward with a tax increase that could potentially solve many budgetary problems for the 2017 fiscal year and rein in the even larger problems looming in the 2018 budget year. 

Flickr / davidwilson1949

West Virginia lawmakers are returning from a long weekend to resume budget negotiations.

Lawmakers are slated to return Tuesday for an 11th day of work. Session costs $35,000 a day, putting the tab at $385,000 through Friday.

The House passed a budget Friday without tax increases and with $143 million taken from the state's Rainy Day Fund.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A day after the failure of the only revenue measure to see any movement during the Legislature’s special session, progress on a budget fix has  come to a screeching halt at the Capitol. Legislators are scrambling to find a  way to fill a $270 million budget gap for the upcoming fiscal year.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The chairs of the House and Senate finance committees shared their budget proposals with their respective committee members Monday, each finding ways to close a more than $270 million budget gap expected during the 2017 fiscal year.

Both proposals would allow agency heads to determine how to take their additional cuts—that while leaders of both chambers are still waiting to see if a critical tobacco tax increase will make it through the House.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

What happens if lawmakers do not approve a budget by the June 30 deadline? That’s a question no one at the statehouse seems to have a clear answer to just yet. Governor Tomblin and his staff, though, are taking steps to prepare for the worst-case scenario -- a government shutdown.

“Should we not have a budget then June 30, every state employee would lose their job,” Tomblin said.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

By a narrow margin, state Senators have approved a tax that will generate some $70 million annual in state revenues.

Senators voted to increase taxes on tobacco products in West Virginia 17-16--with all but one Democratic member of the chamber voting against it and one Republican member, Sen. Robert Karnes, leaving the chamber minutes before the vote.

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A bill to increase the state’s cigarette tax will be put to a final vote in the state Senate Thursday after serious debate over proposed amendments Wednesday.

As introduced on behalf of Gov. Tomblin, the bill would increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes by 45 cents, bump the tax on smokeless tobacco products and create a new tax on e-cigarette liquids. The bill is estimated to bring in more than $70 million annually.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Senate President Bill Cole and House Speaker Tim Armstead have asked Gov. Tomblin to expand his call for the current special budget session to include additional measure that will result in cuts to state programs.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

During a joint meeting, members of the House and Senate Finance Committees were presented with Governor Tomblin’s plan to balance the 2017 budget as well as close a $110 million gap in the current fiscal year.

While that plan makes some additional cuts, it also relies on increased tax revenues. 

West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission

High school counselors across the state have been notified that recipients of the PROMISE scholarship won’t receive their award letters until after the state has a budget for next year.

The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission sent a letter to high school counselors May 2 explaining why they have decided to hold PROMISE award letters this year.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

While Senate President and unopposed Republican candidate for Governor Bill Cole has his eyes set on the state’s highest office, he still has a high task in helping pass a balanced state budget.

Cole was one of the introductory speakers at Donald Trump’s rally in Charleston Thursday after endorsing the candidate earlier this week. Before the rally, Cole called Trump the “most vocal supporter of our beleaguered coal industry.”

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