Release from W.Va. House of Delegates:
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – For the second year in a row, the West Virginia Legislature has passed a balanced, fiscally responsible budget within the confines of the 60-day regular session – saving taxpayers the cost of an extended budget session.
The Senate passed the amended version of House Bill 2020 on a 19-14 margin Friday, following a 95-5 approval vote in the House of Delegates on Thursday.
“We have said from the very beginning of this session that we would pass a budget within the 60-day session, and we have kept that promise,” said House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay. “This budget provides significant investments in our state’s education system, provides a 5-percent average pay raise to our state employees, and funds innovative programs to help put our citizens back to work.”
“This budget is a responsible spending plan that controls spending, provides pay raises to state employees, prioritizes crucial investments in education and provides much-needed tax relief to our seniors and struggling coal industry,” said Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson. “Most of all, completing this budget during the regular session honors our taxpayers and avoids the $35,000-per-day cost of an extended session.”
The $4.675 billion General Revenue Fund budget contains funds for an average 5-percent pay raise for State Police and public employees, and secures funding for the teacher and service worker pay raises that are expected to be approved during the upcoming special session on education betterment. Leadership intends for that session to coincide with regular interim committee meetings later this year, which will avoid additional session costs for taxpayers.
Additionally, the Fiscal Year 2020 budget features:
- $10 million for the “last dollar in” West Virginia Invests Grant Program for free community and technical college for state students (Senate Bill 1).
- $12.8 million in additional funds for state four-year colleges and universities.
- $5 million in additional funds for the state’s community and technical colleges.
- $1.5 million in addition funds for local health departments.
- $500,000 for dash and body cameras for State Police.
- $500,000 for child advocacy centers.
- Full funding for the state’s PROMISE Scholarship program.
In addition to the new investments, the budget plan also includes the three-year phase out of the state’s income tax on Social Security benefits, as well as the reduction of the severance tax on steam coal from 5 to 3 percent over the coming years.
The bill now goes to Gov. Jim Justice for his consideration.