CHARLESTON, W.Va. – House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, today issued the following statement responding to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s commentary on the Legislature’s pace of budget actions:
“Members of the House are working diligently to evaluate the governor’s proposals and go line-by-line through his proposed budget to fulfill our constitutional responsibility of passing a balanced budget before our session adjourns,” Speaker Armstead said.
“This is not a normal budget year,” Armstead said. “We are facing significant challenges, due largely to the Obama administration’s assault on our coal industry and the damage that has done to our economy. We must also face up to the funding problems for our Public Employees Insurance Agency – problems that this governor has let fester for most of his tenure in office.
“As a result, we have to do our duty to balance our budget and to carefully weigh the state’s revenue needs versus the question of whether our taxpayers can absorb any further tax increases at this time,” Armstead said. “This is an important process, and we shouldn’t rush it just to calm the governor’s nerves.
“The resolution of the challenges our public employees and retirees who rely on PEIA could face beginning July 1 will ultimately be dealt with in the budget bill to be adopted at the conclusion of session,” Armstead said. “We will deliver a balanced budget that addresses PEIA for him to sign, and we look forward to working with his office over the coming weeks to assuage any concerns he may have.”