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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Latest Budget Bill Makes More Cuts, Revenue Still Needed from Legislature [feedly]

Latest Budget Bill Makes More Cuts, Revenue Still Needed from Legislature
http://www.wvpolicy.org/latest-budget-bill-makes-more-cuts-revenue-still-needed-from-legislature/

During this week's special session, the Governor introduced HB 115, the latest version of the budget bill. Way back in February, the governor introduced his original budget plan, which called for $450 million in new revenue. During the regular session, the legislature failed to agree on any revenue measures, and at the end of the session passed a budget that was balanced with a $90 million withdrawal from the Rainy Day Fund and major cuts to higher education and Medicaid. That budget was vetoed by the governor. Since then, the Governor, Senate, and House have entered into a stand-off over personal income tax cuts and sales tax increases, with little attention to the actual budget.

Now with HB 115, we can see what the governor's plan is once there is some revenue agreement with the Legislature. Total General Revenue spending in HB 115 totals $4.35 billion, which is $155.7 million below the governor's original proposal. The latest revenue projections show available General Revenue funds for FY 2018 to be $4.09 billion, which means that the legislature would need to raise about $260 million in new revenue for this budget proposal to balance. Current revenue proposals fall far short of that mark, and create bigger budget problems in the future.

Here are a list of major changed in HB 115 from the Governor's original proposal:

  • The Save our State Fund in the Department of Commerce is reduced from $105.5 million to $15 million. Other cuts to the Department of Commerce total $629,448.
  • In the Department of Education, $1 million is cut from 21st Century Assessment and Professional Development. The "smoothing" of payments to the Teacher's Retirement System's unfunded liability is also included, saving $44.7 million.
  • Funding for the Education Broadcasting Authority is restored, but still cut by $85,813 from FY 2017 level. Other cuts in the Department of Education and the Arts total $493,403 below the governor's original proposal.
  • In DHHR, funding for the Center for End of Life, Office of Healthy Lifestyles, Osteoporosis and Arthritis Prevention, and the Tobacco Education Program are eliminated, while General Revenue Funding for Medicaid is cut by $9.9 million below the governor's original proposal.
  • The Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety is cut by $5.1 million below the governor's original proposal, including $3.8 million cut from the Division of Corrections.
  • Community and Technical Colleges are cut by $1.3 million below the governor's proposal.
  • Funding for HEPC and 4 year colleges and universities is cut by  $5.4 million below the governor's original proposal, while $1.6 million in funding is restored for WVNET. Overall funding for Higher Education would be $13.8 million below FY 2017 funding levels.
  • Cuts in other areas of the budget, including DEP, Department of Revenue, and Executive Branch agencies, total $1.4 million


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