Randy Yohe Published

Justice Announces New State Budget Surplus Amid State Program Funding Questions 

Three men hold a signed piece of legislation as balloons fall in celebration.
Gov. Jim Justice celebrates the signing of a tax cut bill with President of the Senate, Craig Blair, left and Speaker of the House, Roger Hanshaw on the right.
WV Legislative Photography/Will Price

Gov. Jim Justice announced Wednesday that for the first half of Fiscal Year 2024, the state’s general revenue collections of more than $2.766 billion stand at $406.4 million ahead of the cumulative estimate.

In a related press release, Justice said December 2023 surplus collections came in at $553.2 million, which is $120.1 million above the official estimate. He said the surplus was driven by a strong performance from personal income taxes and corporate net income taxes.

Justice said the surplus numbers are even more prominent when figuring in a 21.25 quarter percent personal income tax cut. 

“That is with an amazing, amazing, largest in the state history, tax cut that we delivered to all of our people,” Justice said. “Well in excess of $750 million on top of this.”

Independent state budget analysts have said surplus numbers are partially driven by maintaining “flat” budgets, by setting monthly revenue collection estimates artificially low and by underfunding various state agencies and programs. 

During the briefing, Justice was asked about finding a permanent funding source for volunteer fire departments (VFDs) and using state funds to reduce jail and prison overcrowding. In both cases, he said there was surplus money to help but gave no specific answers on how that help will come. 

“That’s what we build our surpluses for,” Justice said about funding VFDs. “With all interest, we’re gonna find it and we’re gonna get it done.”