As we celebrate West Virginia’s 153rd birthday today, many in our state are breathing a sigh of relief since a budget bill has now been officially passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Tomblin. However, budget cuts have still left several West Virginians unsure as to the future of their employment and/or benefits.
The balanced budget as passed will rely on revenues from a $.65 tax increase on cigarettes and will help to offset premium increases for participants in the Public Employees Insurance Agency. But perhaps most importantly, the passage of a budget spells the end of threats to a government shutdown on July 1.
Below are three articles reporting on the passage and signing of the budget for your review.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin used his line-item veto power seven times in signing the new state budget bill (SB1013) into law Friday.
The signing means state government will continue to operate beyond the end of the current fiscal year June 30.
“While the Legislature did not approve all of my recommendations and the process took longer than I would have liked, I appreciate the work of all of those involved in passing a final budget that takes some steps to address our long-term financial challenges,” Tomblin said.
Tomblin also signed several other pieces of legislation Friday approved by lawmakers during the recently completed special session including the bill (SB1012) raising the state tobacco tax by 65-cents for cigarettes. The measure also raises taxes through a percentage increase for loose tobacco and for the first time, a tax on the vaping fluid used in e-cigarettes.
In his line-item vetoes, Tomblin disagreed with approximately $3 million in cuts made by the legislature. He restored a $500,000 cut from the state Department of Agriculture, another $500,000 that was targeted for cuts from the fund to repair wastewater treatment facilities at state parks was also restored. Other line-item veto messages impact permit fees for horizontal well drilling, the Justice Reinvestment Act, horse and dog racing along with marketing funds for the state Development Office and the Controlled Substances Monitoring Program for the state Board of Pharmacy.
The spending plan was approved earlier this week and helped bring to a close a 17-day special session in which Tomblin vetoed another budget bill.
Tomblin signed six other bills into law Friday including a measure that creates a new revenue fund for the Public Employees Insurance Agency (HB123) that will reduce retiree premium increases from 12 percent to six percent.
|Gov. Tomblin signs $4.19B WV budget
Phil Kabler, Staff Writer
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Friday afternoon signed the 2016-17 West Virginia budget bill (SB 1013) into law with seven line-item vetoes — just two weeks before the new budget year begins July 1.
The signing closes out a month-long drama over passage of what Tomblin in his veto message said was, “one of the most challenging budgets I have worked on in all my years of service to the state.”
He approved the $4.187 billion general-revenue spending plan with seven line-item vetoes — six to restore about $3 million in funding cuts and one to remove language that would have designated $10.11 million from the state Lottery profits go strictly for thoroughbred horse racing purses, which was an attempt by the Legislature to cut the subsidy for greyhound racing purses by nearly $4.1 million.
Tomblin noted that the provision was unconstitutional, since the “Legislature may not use an unauthorized insertion in the Budget Bill to undermine general law.”
Tomblin’s line-item veto means that thoroughbred and greyhound racing purses will share the $4 million cut, with the share of the purse fund revenue generally divided at a 75/25 percent split between thoroughbred racing and greyhound racing, respectively.
In his message, Tomblin noted that the process of completing the 2016-17 budget, which included a 17-day special legislative session and a veto of one proposed budget that would have heavily raided the state’s Rainy Day reserve funds, was “exceptionally difficult.”
“While we were able to eventually reach a reasonable compromise, and restore certainty for many of our state employees, residents and businesses, it is important to note that serious financial challenges remain in the years ahead,” Tomblin stated.
Tomblin noted that the Legislature ultimately approved only one of several revenue measures he’d proposed to stabilize budgets for fiscal 2016-17 and years to come, a $98 million increase in tobacco taxes.
“This revenue helps to address issues with not only the fiscal year 2017 budget, but projected deficits in future years,” Tomblin said. “However, it falls well short of eliminating projected deficits of hundreds of millions of dollars that elected officials will have to address in the future.”
Otherwise, Tomblin’s line-item vetoes restored $500,000 each in funding to six accounts: the state Development Office’s marketing fund, the Board of Pharmacy’s Controlled Substances Monitoring database, parole services for the Board of Parole, horizontal well-drilling permit fees to the Department of Environmental Protection, funding for water and sewer infrastructure projects at State Parks and federal funding for the Department of Agriculture that Tomblin said could not be redirected for other uses.
By Ashton Marra • Jun 17, 2016
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed eight bills Friday, including the budget for the 2017 fiscal year lawmakers spent nearly a month in a special session crafting.
The budget bill includes cuts to state agencies and Constitutional Officers as well as the use of one-time Rainy Day Funds to find a balance.
Nearly $100 million in new revenue is included in the bill now that Tomblin also signed an increase to the state’s cigarette and tobacco taxes Friday, approved by lawmakers in separate piece of legislation.
Other bills that have now received the governor’s signature include a bill to take $20 million from the West Virginia Infrastructure Fund to support government operations and a bill that would authorize the governor to continue making state debt payments should future legislators be unable to pass a budget, provoking a government shutdown.
Thursday, Tomblin signed a bill giving the Boone County Board of Education an additional $2 million to pay teachers salaries and other bills this month.
The county experienced an unexpected loss of $9 million in tax collections after three major coal companies announced bankruptcies in the past year.