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No word from Justice on action for budget bill

By RUSTY MARKS

The State Journal

CHARLESTON, W.Va.  — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice had not yet acted on a budget bill passed by the state Legislature by the end of the day Monday.

Monday was the day many in state government had referred to as the “drop-dead day” to get a budget passed in order to ensure state workers would be properly paid. The House of Delegates and Senate reluctantly agreed to a budget compromise in the late hours of Friday.

Gov. Jim Justice

The $4.225 billion budget included neither an increase in the state sales tax nor reductions in income tax rates favored by Republican leaders in the Senate, but largely avoided what some lawmakers referred to as “draconian” cuts in the budget bill passed earlier by the state Senate.

The budget bill passed by the Legislature on June 16 included a 2.6 percent cut to higher education across the states, but cuts of 4.6 percent to Marshall University and West Virginia University.

Part of the budget also was predicated on two roads bills proposed by the governor, both of which also passed in the final hours of June 16. The bills would provide funding for road construction and repair.

The bills will allow for West Virginia Turnpike tolls to be raised, as well as the extension of tolls to other roads within the state; would raise wholesale taxes on gasoline and raise the fees for most documents and services provided by the Division of Motor Vehicles.

House and Senate leaders had received no word of Justice’s intentions toward acting on the legislation on Monday. The budget bill did not fund teacher pay raises or provide money for Justice’s Save Our State contingency fund, both favored by the governor.

Justice spokesman Butch Antolini said the administration would make an announcement when the governor decided to sign or not sign the budget.

State government will shut down July 1 if a budget is not in place by then.

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