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Justice: Budget Proposals Wrong for W.Va. But Deadline Approaching


Gov. Jim Justice said Wednesday the budget proposals being considered in both the House and Senate are wrong for West Virginia and will result in major cuts that hurt vulnerable citizens, but with a deadline to approve a budget in time to avoid a government shutdown quickly approaching, Justice said he would consider signing the budget sent to him. 

Members of both the House and Senate have approved different versions of a $4.225 billion for the upcoming fiscal year.

That level is based on an updated revenue estimate sent to the Senate Tuesday, which increased the previous estimate sent to lawmakers of $4.055 billion in revenue for 2018. 

Credit Joni Deutsch / West Virginia Public Broadcasting
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Above are the governor’s two revenue estimates for the 2018 fiscal year. On the left, the estimates given to lawmakers are the start of the regular session. On the right, the estimate provided to the Senate this week based on the passage of Gov. Justice’s road funding bill.

In an interview with West Virginia Public Broadcasting, Justice said both plans still rely on cuts rather than increasing any revenue through tax reform measures considered by both chambers during the regular session and at the crux of budget negotiations since the start of the regular session.

“Where this thing is today is going to be catastrophic,” he said. “It’s going to hurt our miners or our teachers or something to some magnitude.”

Delegates from both parties have blamed the governor for the length of the current special budget session, saying he has attempted force them to agree to a tax reform plan based on reducing the personal income tax that they have made clear they will not accept.

Justice said “it’s simply not true” that the lack of progress in negotiations is solely his fault, adding he’s been focused on coming to a budget agreement since his first day in office.

Still, the governor said he has not decided if he will sign or veto a budget bill that does not include any new revenue. That decision he said is based on timing.

“If I get with two days left from the deadline, then you’ve got to make a horribly difficult decision that is no win, no win,” he said. “If the only thing left to do is to shutdown government, then the right thing to do might be to go ahead and sign it.”