Budget Crunching in West Virginia Capitol

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With the West Virginia Legislative session now in full swing, all eyes are on the budget process. The West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy held it’s annual breakfast briefing, with lawmakers in attendance. This year there are big concerns about education funding, and other programs given that Governor Justice promised no new taxes.

“I think in the long term it’s not plausible. We have a graying population, we have much needed investments we have to make, and the state does have a major revenue problem. We keep using one time money to fill huge budget holes. And after a while that’s just not going to work,” said Ted Boettner, WV Center on Budget & Policy.

And there is also talk of cutting off Medicaid, as well as SNAP food stamps and other aid to needy families, if able-bodied recipients don’t go back to work.

“DHHR has just announced in November that they are seeking a waiver to allow the state to require some type of work requirement for our state’s Medicaid recipients. And we’re very concerned about that. We’re concerned that’s going to result in people losing health care coverage,” said Sean O’Leary, WV Center on Budget & Policy.

But there is support among some in the Legislature, for making the work-benefit requirements.

“You know you got the working people out there working, and you got neighbors not working. And it’s just right to get people back to work. It’s an incentive to get them to go to work,” said Del. Rupie Phillips, (R) Logan.

Meanwhile as budget discussions go on, there continues to be a firm stand on any tax hikes.

“We’re going to maintain that no new tax situation. And use the revenues that are available to us,” said Del Vernon Criss, (R) Wood.

“Most of the issues we are talking about are going through the initial budget and committee process, with no firm dates set – as of yet – for any votes,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.

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