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Governor cuts $67 million from W.Va. budget bill

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Wielding his line-item veto authority, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin cut nearly $67 million in appropriations out of the 2014-15 budget bill, passed by the Legislature last Friday.

Tomblin, in his veto message, raised concerns that the Legislature’s spending plan took about $147 million out of the state’s Rainy Day emergency funds – significantly more than the $83.83 million the governor’s budget bill proposed using.

“Without a tax increase or other revenue source, and absent the action I am taking today, (SB306) will drop the Rainy Day fund below what is considered the recommended threshold of 15 percent down to 11.5 percent in three fiscal years,” Tomblin wrote.

With the likelihood that lawmakers will have to tap into the Rainy Day fund again to balance the 2015-16 budget, Tomblin raised concerns that the fund will fall below an amount equal to 15 percent of the state’s general revenue budget – a threshold that investment advisers say is needed to maintain the state’s bond rating.

With his ability under the law to change individual items in the budget bill, Tomblin reduced the Legislature’s proposal to take $147.5 million out of the Rainy Day funds down to $100 million for the 2014-15 budget year.

To balance the budget, Tomblin made 42 spending cuts to the 2014-15 budget bill, in many cases, rolling back appropriations to the amounts originally proposed in the budget he submitted to the Legislature on Jan. 8.

“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.

Among the larger cuts, Tomblin reduced the $147.55 million the Legislature appropriated to cover the state’s share of Medicaid costs to $100 million…

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