CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The House of Delegates today voted 61-38 to pass its balanced budget plan, which features no tax increases, implements further reductions in state agency spending and fully funds the Public Employees Insurance Agency for the coming fiscal year.
The budget outlines $4.2 billion in General Revenue Fund expenditures, plus additional spending from various special revenue sources, including federal funds, Lottery proceeds and the State Road Fund. With the additional special and federal revenue accounts, the budget directs $12.65 billion in expenditures over the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
“This is a sound, responsible spending plan that funds our government without putting additional tax burdens on our hard-working citizens,” said House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha.
“This budget balances our needs to properly fund government, while dealing with the gaping hole in our revenue collections that have been caused by the economic collapse of our energy industries,” said Finance Committee Chairman Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha.
Among its provisions, the House budget bill:
At the beginning of the legislative session, lawmakers were faced with closing a nearly $480 million budget gap for the coming fiscal year. Through a combination of cuts and supplemental appropriation bills that have already passed this session, legislators had already reduced that projected gap to approximately $102 million.
To close that remaining gap, the House budget sweeps roughly $72.9 million of unused funds sitting in special revenue accounts. The House of Delegates will also transfer more than $2 million in surplus funds in its accounts to help close next year’s budget gap.
Finally, the budget also draws a modest $31.7 million from the state’s Revenue Reserve Shortfall Fund, known generally as the “Rainy Day Fund.”
“While this budget uses one-time measures to address our structural budget gap, this plan will give us the time over the coming year to take a hard look at our state agencies and determine if there are programs, divisions or other measures that can be cut, consolidated or reorganized,” Nelson said. “With the collapse of our energy industries, we have a severe structural imbalance in our long-term budget and a 60-day legislative session is simply not enough time to properly study whether there are ways we can significantly streamline how our government operates.”
“The bottom line is our tax base simply cannot afford the amount of government we’re asking them to pay for at this time,” Speaker Armstead said. “It is our goal as lawmakers to spend the next 10 months closely studying our tax code and how our state operates to see if there are ways we can make government more efficient and restructure our tax code to diversify our economy and promote growth.”
The budget, amended into Senate Bill 269, now goes to the Senate for further consideration.