With one day left in the West Virginia Legislature’s 2021 regular session, the House of Delegates approved the latest version of a budget bill.
The $4.6 billion general revenue budget came into sharper focus Friday afternoon after delegates rejected another proposal that would have reduced personal income taxes, but called for hikes on other taxes and new revenue streams.
The House’s spending plan is $74 million less than the governor’s originally introduced budget.
Senators approved Wednesday their vision for state spending in fiscal year 2022, with the House offering its current — and likely final — version of the budget Friday evening. Delegates voted 86-14 to send the measure back to the upper chamber.
House Finance Chair Eric Householder, R-Berkeley, began discussion of a strike-and-insert amendment to House Bill 2022 — which, most notably, makes 1.5 percent across-the-board cuts to all state agencies and programs.
“Before you is the House amendment to the Senate amendment, which I am asking you to agree to — as a compromise on the position of the two houses,” Householder said, as he outlined the spending bill to members of the lower chamber.
Conversation on the strike-and-insert amendment to House Bill 2022 remained cordial between majority Republicans and minority Democrats, and consisted mostly of a series of questions about cuts affecting respective delegate’s districts and other major funding reductions to programs and agencies — namely, Marshall University and West Virginia University.
Under the House amendment, more drastic cuts to WVU — $16.6 million and $9.7 million, respectively — would be covered by general revenue surpluses. According to the latest revenue reports — three-quarters into the current fiscal year — the state stands at a $235 million surplus.
Despite those end-of-the-year assurances, WVU would be slashed by $1.4 million and Marshall would be cut $300,000, according to the lower chamber’s strike-and-insert, compared to the current budget.
Ultimately, delegates spent less than an hour discussing the budget before voting. The Senate now will consider the House’s final version of the spending bill.
The 60-day regular session ends Saturday at midnight.