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WV Senate to vote on budget with cuts

By JIM ROSS

The State Journal

The State Senate is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a budget that relies heavily on spending cuts and less on the tax increases requested by Gov . Jim Justice.

Gov. Jim Justice continues to try to draw the West Virginia House and Senate together to agree on a budget that includes both budget cuts and tax increases.
(WV Legislature photo)

Senate Bill 199 received the second of two required readings Tuesday and advanced to its scheduled third reading on Wednesday. It is one of three budget bills the Legislature is currently working with.

The bill is already drawing criticism for its method of balancing the budget. West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee on Tuesday asked people in the university community to contact Republican senators about their proposal to cut state funding for WVU.

S.B. 199 appropriates $93,628,932 for WVU, a 15 percent reduction from the $110,305,960 appropriated for fiscal year 2017. The WVU medical school would take a 14 percent cut to $18,388,929.

“Let me be clear: Reductions of this magnitude will have a severe, negative impact to our institution,” Gee wrote in his letter to the WVU community. “It will mean significant layoffs for our staff, increased tuition for our students, a fundamental change to WVU Extension Service and the reduction of academic programs. We cannot let this happen”

Marshall University would receive $41,105,926 in S.B. 199, down 15 percent, the same as WVU, from $48,427,644 in the current fiscal year.

The governor and the Legislature are at odds over how to balance this year’s budget, which has a roughly $500 million deficit. Last year the Legislature and former Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin didn’t settle a budget with a smaller deficit until mid-June. Gov. Jim Justice has urged the Legislature to pass a budget before the end of the regular 60-day session, which is Saturday.

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