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WV Senate chief predicts lots of cuts, no tax hikes

BECKLEY, W.Va. — Senate President Bill Cole said the W. Va. Legislature will tackle several important issues in the 2016 session, in spite of a budget shortfall that promises to take up much of lawmakers’ time.

Cole, R-Mercer, said Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s office is predicting a budget shortfall upwards of $300 million for the current fiscal year, a figure that will leave legislators scrambling for ways to balance the budget, likely with more cuts to state agencies. Those agencies have had successive 7.5 percent budget cuts for two years, and a mid-year 4 percent cut this year.

 “I fear we’re in a downward curve, and I don’t know what the revenue number is the governor is going to project, but you can bet it’s going to be $300-$400 million,” Cole said. “That means cuts to every program in the state. The looming budget crisis is the overhand we’re going to deal with the whole time.”

“Until we get people back to work it won’t get any better.”

Jobs, Cole said, will continue to be the focus of legislation the GOP will champion during the session—among them tort reform, regulatory reform and tax reforms.

Cole noted that W. Va. had just been named the most regulated state in the nation…


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