More budget concerns at WV Capitol

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WOWK) — Once again a drop in coal and natural gas severance taxes is the reason the state’s cash flow dropped substantially.

“The severance tax for the month of October, we collected about 8.2 million, and the estimate was 14.9. We were down compared to last year by 67.1 percent,” said Mark Muchow, West Virginia Deputy Revenue Secretary.

That made the state’s revenue drop by $3 million last month, and it’s a $33 million deficit so far this year. $100 million in budget cuts are being discussed, but nothing is final in this roller-coaster revenue picture.

“We had revenue last year of almost $511 million more than we anticipated, and we spent it all. So, and here we are now, probably looking at very low growth moving forward because of that volatility. So that’s a concern. Some of that probably would have been better spent, put aside,” said Minority Chair of the Finance Committee Del. Mick Bates (D-Raleigh).

Because of the volatility of the energy economy, there are more calls to diversify the state’s up-and-down economy.

“We’re not in bad shape. But we’ve got to be able to get ourselves some manufacturing industry back to this state,” said Finance Committee Chairman State Sen. Craig Blair, (R-Berkely).

In addition to potential cuts this year, the Governor told department heads to trim their budget request for next year by nearly 5-percent.

We should get a better idea of the budget situation on Wednesday, January 8, 2020. That’s when the Legislature convenes for its annual session, and the Governor delivers his budget and state-of-the-state address, that evening.

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