CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Time is running out for the West Virginia Legislature to accomplish it’s primary goal – pass a budget to keep state government running. Saturday the State Senate passed its version of the budget bill but will the house of delegates go along with that plan. The bill includes a few new amendments and will likely face more in the House.
“This is normal for the process whenever you are trying to get the budget out in a 60-day session,” says State Senator and Finance Committee Chairman Craig Blair, (R Berkeley).
Saturday’s amendments include restoring 10 million dollars after the Senate cut Governor Jim Justice’s promise of 20-million for the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities waiver – or IDD – in half. The Governor said he wouldn’t sign the budget without the full 20-million to eliminate the IDD waitlist.
“20 million or 19.6 million will get 1060 people off the waiting list and that includes 660 children and again one person has been on that waitlist for almost five years,” State Senator Ron Stollings (D – Boone)
Another amendment backed by Stollings included funding for the coronavirus.
Friday lawmakers of both parties voiced concerns the Governor’s proposed budget failed to provide any funds for addressing the virus if – or when – it shows up in West Virginia.
“What we are trying to do is get some funding for our response to the cova19 or coronavirus. What this amendment will do is put 2-million dollars of money into the public health emergency response fund,” says Stollings.
Blair says the biggest thing on his mind regarding the budget bill is tourism. With the state committed to turning it’s dependence on a natural resources-based economy to one promoting tourism, paying for that promotion is key.
Blair says the Senate showed fiscal restraint and worked well together during the floor session to enhance the merit of the bill. The question in the coming days is – what will the house do to change the budget bill – since they have a version of their own.