Associated Press Published

Tomblin Offers Health Premium Deal for Budget


Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has a proposal to offset health premium increases for state employees, retirees and teachers.

Tomblin said Sunday he’d introduce legislation with $15 million extra for Public Employee Insurance Agency beneficiaries if the GOP-led Legislature passes his tobacco tax increase.

Tomblin said it would reduce anticipated 2017 budget-year premium increases from 12 percent to 6 percent, and reduce possible 2018 increases.

The House will cast a Monday or Tuesday tobacco tax vote. The chamber previously killed a smaller tobacco hike.

A 65-cent per-pack increase on cigarettes and increases on e-cigarettes and other tobacco products would produce $100 million toward covering a $270 million gap. Senators already passed it.

Sunday’s 15th day of extra budget work puts the running tab at $525,000.

Without a budget, the government will shut down July 1.