By DANYEL VANREENEN
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A budget proposal scheduled to enter the House of Delegates on Wednesday proposed to reduce state spending by $84 million from the current fiscal year’s level. The proposal would cut $402 million from Gov. Jim Justice’s budget proposal.
The budget was created by the leaders of the West Virginia House of Delegates Liberty Caucus. Michael Folk, R-Berkeley, said the purpose of the bill is to reduce and halt the growth of government in Charleston.
The proposal would get rid of the “Save Our State” fund — which Folk called ludicrous — and it would cut some of the bureaucracy from the education department as well as funds for the Smart Balance Testing.
Folk’s bill would also take $6 million in unobligated funds from the commerce department. Folk said the money has been sitting in the account for a minimum of two years, and the money is uncommitted.
In addition to the budget proposal, Folk said there are several bills under consideration that would help streamline Charleston government. One bill proposes getting rid of the higher education policy commission. Another proposes streamlining the DUI process by getting rid of the administrative aspect. In total, Folk said the bills could offer up to $10 in savings for the state.
Although Folk’s budget diverges from Justice’s in many ways, Folk said his proposal retains the two percent pay raise for state teachers and it would preserve the funding to the state’s Promise Scholarship.
Although Folk said the bill will not be formally introduced to the House until today, he has heard positive comments from both sides of the aisle.
Folk said the Liberty Caucus leaders were prompted to draft the budget because the House needs to propose a budget by day 50.
“Everyone was complaining that we didn’t have a budget, so we put one in,” Folk said.
Folk thinks his budget proposal is much more reasonable than Justice’s. Although Folk said he doesn’t expect the budget to pass without changes, he thinks it will serve as a good blueprint.
“It will definitely get the conversation started,” Folk said.
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