Gov. Justice gives update on WV budget deficit

West Virginia

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice talked about the latest budget numbers during a Friday afternoon news conference. He seemed more optimistic than in past months, but others are concerned.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – Gov. Jim Justice seems a bit more optimistic about the state’s budget.

Revenue has been down because of a drop in coal and natural gas severance tax revenue. But he said December could see an $11 million uptick.

Earlier this fall, Gov. Justice and other state leaders had warned of $100 million dollars in potential budget cuts.

“I am still very, very hopeful that we do not have to go there but we’re watching it every minute and if we have to do that we’re poised to be able to do so,” Justice said.

Here are the numbers for the fiscal year that runs from July until June.

There was a $33 million deficit for the first four months and a $7 million deficit in November. That brings us to a $40 million deficit to date.

Others aren’t so optimistic. Dale Lee, President of the West Virginia Education Association, said he’s troubled about potential cuts to education.

“Any cut in education is really disastrous to many of the small counties who are living on a very fixed budget anyway so when you take those cuts many of our counties can’t absorb them,” Lee said.

He said the state has made strides putting in addtional money for students’ social and emotional needs, plus teachers salaries.

Still, he said West Virginia is still playing catchup with neighboring states when it comes to education.

“We can’t go backwards now,” Lee said. “We can’t take that step back so I’m very concerned about that and we have to stop giving money away.”

We will get a clearer picture of the state’s financial outlook on January 8, when the governor will deliver his budget and state of the state address.

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