Ashton Marra Published

W.Va. Ends Fiscal Year $426M Under Estimates


State revenue officials say West Virginia didn’t end the 2016 fiscal year quite as badly off as they predicted, but they’re still calling it the worst budget year in decades. 

Department of Revenue Secretary Bob Kiss said in a conference call with reporters Friday his office predicted the state would end the 2016 fiscal year at the end of June some $464 million below revenue estimates. 

In order to close the gap, Governor Tomblin cut state agency budgets and lawmakers approved a number of supplemental appropriations along with pulling money from the state’s Rainy Day Fund.

But the state ended the year only $426 million below estimates, saving West Virginia’s Medicaid program from a $30 million end-of-year cut. The governor instead only cut the program by $8 million. 

Still, Kiss said it’s the continued decline of severance tax income that’s hurting West Virginia’s bottom line.

“In 2015, up until about the last quarter of the fiscal year, we were meeting and even exceeding our severance tax estimates,” Kiss said. “So, I think what that shows you is the magnitude.  It was a significant challenge.”

The severance tax is the state’s third largest revenue source after income and sales taxes.