Eric Douglas Published

Justice Budget Proposal Flat For 2023


Gov. Jim Justice’s proposed budget for the 2023 fiscal year includes a small increase mostly comprised of raises for state employees, according to Michael Cook, director of the West Virginia State Budget Office. He explained the proposed budget to members of the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday.

Cook said state agencies submitted flat budgets and then made additional requests for any changes. They have been told to do that for the last three years.

The proposed 2023 fiscal year budget reflects a 1.4 percent increase over 2022 for a total expenditure of $4.645 billion.

The two changes in the budget that make up the difference are the pay raises for state employees, estimated at $114 million, and $41 million in inmate medical care.

Cook explained that budgeting for the pay raises used an average per employee. It includes $2,550 for each state employee, $2,240 for teachers and school support personnel and $1,225 for school service personnel to come up with the budget figure. The pay raise would not go into effect until the new fiscal year begins on July 1.

The proposed 2.5 percent bonus for state employees will come from a special budget appropriation that the governor’s office plans to submit soon. That money will come from the current fiscal year and will be paid before the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

Cook said the various supplemental spending appropriations completed over the last year, many using federal coronavirus recovery money, are not reflected in the budget since it only covers general revenue, lottery and excess lottery spending.

In a follow-up question, Sen. Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha, noted that the committee had not received a six year financial projection from the budget office for the last two years. Cook said he did not have that figure in front of him, but it would be included in a later presentation on revenue projections.

The Finance Committee will take the governor’s budget recommendation, but will also hear proposals from all the state agencies before passing a budget.