- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 24, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed next year’s state budget Tuesday after nixing about $11 million for a variety of programs, from higher education to health.

In a difficult budget year, the vetoes made it possible to rely on only $14.8 million from state reserves. The final budget also maintains strong bond ratings and interest rates on debt transactions, the Democratic governor wrote in his budget letter.

The spending plan, which uses $4.3 billion in general revenue, deals with an increase in Medicaid state match costs and a decline in revenue projections, Tomblin wrote.

“Some of these reductions curb grants and services and, while they are difficult, they are necessary to responsibly manage future year budgets, without raising taxes,” Tomblin wrote in his budget letter.

The budget passed by the Republican-led Legislature depended on almost $23 million from the state Rainy Day Fund. It also would have built more expenses into future budgets, Tomblin wrote.

Originally, the governor’s budget banked on almost $69 million to come out of the fund. He then reduced that estimate twice down to $15.5 million, and the final budget dropped the number further.

There is about $862 million in the Rainy Day Fund, and it’s still considered one of the best-stocked in the country.

While tapping less from savings, Tomblin cut millions of dollars combined for some programs.

A few noteworthy budget rollbacks out of the 46 made by Tomblin, compared to the Legislature’s budget:

- $2 million from capital outlay and maintenance, reducing the fund to $250,000.

- $729,600 from primary health care support, reducing the account to $5.3 million; and $250,000 from free health clinics, reducing their funds to about $2.8 million. Tomblin wrote that Medicaid expansion has made more West Virginians eligible for health coverage.

- $210,000 from the veterans cemetery, reducing funding to $373,263.

- $426,600 from West Virginia State University, reducing its funding to $10.3 million; $342,200 from Blue Ridge Community and Technical College, for total funding of $7.5 million; $305,200 from West Virginia University-Parkersburg, reducing its funding to $9.8 million; $548,000 from WVU- School of Health Sciences, resulting in total funding of $16.2 million; $450,000 from West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, for a total of $7 million.

- $164,600 from the State Police forensics lab, reducing its funding to $250,400.

Senate President Bill Cole, R-Mercer, gave the governor and lawmakers credit for limiting what they took from reserves.

“West Virginia is experiencing tough economic times right now,” Cole said in an email. “And given those limitations, Governor Tomblin - along with (Senate Finance) Chairman Mike Hall and (House Finance) Chairman Eric Nelson - had to make some difficult choices to limit the use of the Rainy Day Fund. All things considered, I think they did an extraordinary job.”

The next budget year starts in July.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide