Negotiators Reach Deal On $11.7 Billion Budget


Negotiators Reach Deal On $11.7 Billion Budget

House Majority Leader Daryl Cowles says Wednesday's House-passed spending plan contains $170 million more than the budget the Legislature passed two months ago that Justice vetoed.

The Senate will conclude a series of meetings this week, and send final round of changes later this month to conference committee, a legislative process meant to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate budget versions. This version aims to balance a budget in the face of a projected shortfall of almost $1 billion, as state revenues have continued to come in under estimates.

Democratic Sen. Lou D'Allesandro of Manchester tried unsuccessfully to introduce an amendment to bring the projections back up. A measure affecting the West Virginia Parkways Authority also is in the hands of the House Finance Committee, which has not taken action on the bill since May 24.

In order for the report on House Bill 107 to pass, it had to receive support from the majority of members from each chamber, meaning it needed support from at least three senators and three delegates, regardless of the margin of difference among the entire committee.

House Bill 107 would have required West Virginians to begin paying sales tax on services and goods that are now exempt from it, which was estimated to bring in $86 million in fiscal year 2018.

Republican Senators voted Tuesday night to close that remaining gap by cutting almost $35 million from higher education institutions across the state and another $35 million from Medicaid-money that the federal government matches 3-to-1.

But House Speaker Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, said focusing on the abortion language overlooks all the good the budget includes.

That potentially sets up a giant game of chicken, to see which side gives in to the other's plan - plans involving either small or no tax increases to close the budget deficit.

It would leave income tax rates unchanged, instead of cutting them as the Senate and Justice want. "We just have a lot of different ideas about how we get there".

House leadership is reverting to a version of the revenue plan its chamber passed on May 19, the seventh day of the special session, in a 74-19 vote.

The FORTIFY Act got out of the House Appropriations Committee by a vote of 11-7.

Justice's press office did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment on the latest budget developments.

House members alluded to use of $100 million as a sign of compromise. Unfortunately, we do not believe the version of the bill considered in conference achieves that goal.

So far, the mood at the Capitol was less tense than during the final days of the regular session last week, according to Abraham.

It funds essential personnel and services, while protecting the benefits of state workers who could face furloughs.

Lawmakers must hammer out a compromise no later than June 19 to avoid an unprecedented government shutdown. The session must end no later than 11:59 p.m. Monday, June 19.



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