Ashton Marra Published

Revenue Sec. Warns of Longterm Budget Hole Without 2017 Fixes

Department of Revenue Secretary Bob Kiss.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has already taken action to close an estimated $165 million budget gap this year, but the state’s Revenue Secretary said that unless lawmakers take significant action in the upcoming legislative session, that hole will only grow. 

Sec. Bob Kiss presented the latest revenue estimates to a Joint Committee on Finance during interim meetings Tuesday. 

Through November, those collections are down more than $90 million for the year and Kiss estimated that hole will grow to $165 million by June.

Gov. Tomblin has already taken steps to close that gap. Last month, he cut agencies by 2 percent, state funding for schools by 1 percent, and the Medicaid program by $25 million.

Those cuts along with a redirection of funds that were meant to pay off old worker’s compensation debt total $85 million. The rest of the gap, Kiss said, will be filled by recommendations that the Legislature will receive from Tomblin next year.

While Kiss said the state’s current fiscal issues aren’t as bad as last year, he says there is a structural hole in the state’s budget that will last for at least six years, if not longer.

“Our anticipation of the revenues and the timeframe at which they will come back will not keep pace with that structural hole. So, again, cuts or revenue measures,” he told the committee.

Kiss said without tax increases or significant cuts during the 2017 Legislative Session, that structural hole could be as large as $400 million for years to come.