By Phil Kabler, Charleston Gazette-Mail
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — An 11th-hour reprieve is contained in the $900 billion coronavirus stimulus bill that extends a Dec. 30 deadline for West Virginia to spend $1.25 billion in federal CARES Act funds. Even with that extension, Gov. Jim Justice said he is confident that all but $30-$39 million of the funds will be spent by year’s end.
“You can rest assured the dollars will be spent,” Justice said at the state COVID-19 briefing on Monday.
That’s despite having a balance of $751.3 million in the CARES Act account as of Monday, according to the State Auditor’s Office.
At the Friday COVID-19 briefing, Justice and Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy provided details on how the funds will be expended in the final days of 2020. The largest item, $445.7 million, will go to pay unemployment compensation benefits and to create a $315 million balance in the state’s Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund.
That has been a priority for Justice during the pandemic, since, if the fund runs out of money, the government would have to increase the state unemployment compensation tax. That is a tax on employers that is as low as 1.5% of the first $12,000 of wages for employers that don’t have a history of frequent employee layoffs…