By LACIE PIERSON
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The State of West Virginia’s budget shortfall swelled again in December as the state came up $6.7 million short of its projected revenue for the month, Revenue Secretary Bob Kiss reported Monday.
During the first day of interim meetings of the 83rd West Virginia Legislature in Charleston, Kiss told members of the Joint Standing Committee on Finance that the state again had come up short of its revenue estimates.
Kiss said the state’s General Revenue Fund had fallen $98.2 million behind state officials’ projections since Fiscal Year 2017 began on July 1, 2016. That means the state had fallen behind by a margin of more than $11 million since November, when the General Revenue Fund was $87 million short of its projected revenue to that point, Kiss said.
In the face of falling revenue, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin ordered 2 percent across-the-board budget cuts on Nov. 16. The November cuts totaled $59.8 million and included $11.134 million in cuts from the state school aid formula and a one-time $25 million cut to Medicaid.
The revenue gap applies to the current budget year, but the outlook isn’t much better going forward. Kiss said last month that legislators would have to patch an estimated $400 million hole in Fiscal Year 2018, which will begin July 1, 2017.
Democratic Governor-elect Jim Justice will be sworn into office on Monday, Jan. 16, and Justice has said he wants to address the state’s budget issues without increasing taxes and without making additional cuts to the budget.
Sen. Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, who is favored to be elected West Virginia Senate president this month, released a statement last month saying he was “embracing the campaign pledge” Justice made to not increase taxes to balance the state’s budget.
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