The numbers were announced by Governor Justice in a Tuesday morning news conference. Coal and natural gas severance taxes are 51 percent higher than a year ago. Corporate net income tax is also up 42 percent, and sales tax revenue is up almost ten percent. The governor says this is a far cry from deep deficits just a few years ago.
“I mean when we are talking about the biggest in history surplus – for the first six months – considering where we were a couple of years ago, it’s really good. It’s really, really really good,” said Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia.
If there seems to be bipartisan agreement on one thing, it’s another 5-percent pay raise for teachers, school workers, and all state employees. But overall, Democrats are cautious about the governor’s spending plans.
“We have to keep in mind the law requires any budget surplus that we have, half of that must go into the rainy day fund. If we are at 180 million like he says, 90 of that has to go into rainy day,” said Del. Mike Caputo, (D) Marion – Minority Whip.
Republicans also laid out their agenda, with more money planned for roads, tackling the opioid crisis, and education and jobs that could include free technical training or community college.
“We are anxious to tackle this issue because we know it’s an important part of the economy. We know that if we don’t tackle it, we’re leaving economic dollars on the table,” said House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, (R) Clay.
And with the growth of the state economy, and revenue that brings in came a pledge of no new taxes.
“We don’t anticipate raising taxes. Anybody here want to raise a tax? (No!) (laughter) I didn’t see any hands going up,” said State Sen. Mitch Carmichael, (R) Jackson – Senate President.
Republicans still control the House and Senate, but lost seats in both chambers.
A lot of where the Governor would like to send that surplus and at what funding levels, will be unveiled Wednesday night in the Governor’s State of the State address.