CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — The State Legislature has been briefed by the Department of Revenue, which had been bracing for the possibility of budget cuts in the range of $100 million. Most of that was due to a sharp decline in severance tax collections on coal and natural gas. But now the governor’s office believes the rest of the fiscal year looks good, and cuts won’t be needed.
State Senate President Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson) says, “Well obviously we are encouraged. First I want to say, Merry Christmas, it’s a great present when you look at it from that perspective. And it’s sort of what we’ve anticipated. I think perhaps they jumped the gun a little early.”
It was just a month ago that October revenue fell short of expectations – meaning the annual deficit to that date was $33 million. The possibility of $100 million in budget cuts looked very possible, so not everyone is convinced the crisis is over.
State Senate Minority Whip Corey Palumbo (D-Kanawha) says, “We’re still a good bit behind the projected budget. And I am happy to hear they are optimistic, that we can make it up for the second half of the fiscal year. But I’m still a little bit concerned that’s not going to happen.”
The hope is that holiday sales through the end of the year will bring a much need boost in state tax revenue. The bottom line is, while the $100 million budget cuts have been averted for this year, no one is yet saying if that will be the case next year. A lot depends on the budget the governor presents here on January 8, 2020.