CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia lawmakers today learned that the state government is now officially in the black for the current fiscal year and is set to end this budget year, which ends June 30, with a healthy surplus.
According to daily revenue figures provided to the Legislature, the state of West Virginia is now nearly $1.2 million ahead of its full-year revenue estimates for the 2018 fiscal year, which officially ends on Saturday. This means any revenue received from Monday onward, including month-end severance tax payments, will continue to add to the state’s year-end surplus.
House Finance Committee Chairman Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha, said this good financial news was a testament to the Legislature’s responsible fiscal management in recent years.
“When we started the budget process in February 2017, we were facing a nearly $500 million deficit,” Chairman Nelson said. “The Governor, who was a Democrat at the time, proposed closing that gap with $450 million in tax increases – something we in the Legislature fiercely opposed.”
Republican leadership in the House and Senate held firm on controlling government spending and avoiding unreasonable tax increases to balance the budget.
After months of debate, the Legislature passed a $4.225 billion General Revenue Fund budget that did not increase general revenue taxes and forced government to live within its means. Not only did the budget forego several new spending requests, it cut overall General Revenue Fund spending by $85 million, when compared to the prior fiscal year. That budget became law without the Governor’s signature.
As of the close of business last Friday, the state had collected $4.226 billion in revenue to support this year’s budget.
“This Legislature deserves a tremendous amount of credit for holding our ground to control government spending and not pass the buck onto our citizens and businesses by hiking their taxes,” Chairman Nelson said. “Our combination of pro-growth policies combined with our fiscal restraint is now reaping dividends for our state. The fact that we are now talking about surpluses instead of deficits is clear evidence we are turning this state in the right direction and that our best days are to come.”
Half of any surplus funds left over at the end of the fiscal year will be deposited into the state’s Rainy Day Fund. Remaining surplus amounts will fund several key programs that lawmakers identified in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget bill, including $5 million for the Office of Drug Control Policy, $765,000 to purchase stream gauges for flood control, $2.5 million to boost Division of Tourism marketing, and $2 million to provide Volunteer Fire Departments’ Workers’ Compensation payments.