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WV Department of Revenue 'lives within its means'

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The West Virginia Department of Revenue was subjected to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's 7.5 percent budget cuts, but the department has made internal changes to cooperate with the reduction.

Charles Lorensen, the acting tax commissioner, told the House Finance Committee Feb. 28 that most agencies within the Department of Revenue were asked to maintain their income and expenditure schedules from previous years to help offset the 7.5 percent cut. Tomblin asked agencies in September to adjust their budgets for fiscal year 2014 so the state can continue to fund increasing Medicaid costs. Lorensen said the budget cuts haven't been a problem for most agencies.

"They've all taken their 7.5 percent reductions," he said. For example, in the secretary's office, a position that was vacant went unfilled.

But Lorensen's department, the State Tax Department, saw the biggest change.

"The Tax Dept is the largest agency within the Department of Revenue that has general revenue allocations," Lorensen said. "Folks from the Office of Tax Appeals had to reduce their budgets and likewise other agencies that are general revenue appropriated. (West Virginia State Budget Office Director) Mark McKown … had to cut his own budget by 7.5 percent and comply with his own request.

"The Department of Revenue had to take it on the chin."

Lorensen said the bottom line is the general revenue agencies in the Department of Revenue have complied with the requested budget cuts "without whining," unlike Congress.

"We're trying to live within our means and understand it was necessary," Lorensen said.