Lawmakers continue to move forward with legislation to balance this year’s budget, and three of those bills will be up for a vote in the House of Delegates on Monday.
Senate Bills 342, 357, and 360 are all aimed at balancing the 2016 budget.
Governor Tomblin’s budget officials say the state will end the fiscal year in June with a nearly $400 million budget gap and West Virginia lawmakers are constitutionally required to balance the budget each fiscal year.
House Finance Chairman, Delegate Eric Nelson of Kanawha County says the three Senate bills were introduced on behalf of the governor and complement each other.
“In an overall summary, they’re basically moving expenditures from Medicaid, from the General Revenue line item, over to Lottery,” Nelson explained, “and so the very first bill that’ll be up is expiring $53 million from General Revenue and moving that to Lottery and within that is roughly $9.8 million for title 19 programs, or senior services, and a follow up bill basically requires immediate expenditures out of Lottery for that $9.8 [million] to help fund the title 19 programs in this fiscal year of 2016, then there is another $10 million that’s being expired out of Lottery to fund other Medicaid services leaving roughly 34 million that will be covered in next year’s fiscal year.”
All three bills will be up for a vote on Monday in the chamber. Combined with funding measures being considered in the Senate and actions already taken by the governor, Nelson says the state is in good shape for the current fiscal year, despite a debate lawmakers had on the floor earlier this week.
Democrats are pushing the Republican majority in the House to take on funding shortfalls for PEIA, the state’s public employee health care program, but Nelson says that’s a task for the 2017 budget.
“Our current fiscal, which ends in June, we’re fully covered; the employees, there is no change, and so what we’re looking at into next fiscal year 2017 that begins July 1, the Governor’s proposed $40 some million dollars of new monies that will basically on an 80/20 split, it’ll be a shared premium adjustment for the employer as well as the employee.”
The governor’s new monies Nelson refers to would come from an increase to the state’s tobacco tax- something that has not yet been proposed to the chamber.