10 March 2010

Lawmakers Begin Work on State Budget (Updated)

The Legislature has taken its first step toward crafting a new state spending plan, with the Senate Finance Committee amending and advancing Gov. Joe Manchin's budget bill, The Associated Press reports.

Federal stimulus-related funds increase its total amount by around $248 million, but it "still cuts (updated) general revenue spending by $47 million when compared to what the Legislature passed last year," the article said.

Changes also reflect the recent scaling back of pension premium hikes by the state's Consolidated Public Retirement Board, AP reports.

"Manchin outlined a spending plan in January that totaled just under $11 billion," the article said. "It included $3.7 billion backed by general tax revenues, $525 million (corrected) from lottery proceeds and $4.3 billion from federal dollars."

Though the Senate is taking the lead on the budget this year, House Finance advanced (updated) its version of the budget bill Wednesday. Lawmakers expect to remain at the Capitol for about a week beyond Saturday's regular session finale to complete the new budget.

Updated: "Lottery funds, meanwhile, and stimulus dollars are offsetting much of the general revenue cuts Manchin had ordered for the proposed budget - 4 percent for education and 5 percent for most other agencies," AP observes. "These revenue sources are easing the task facing West Virginia lawmakers when compared to many of their counterparts elsewhere. The National Conference of State Legislatures estimated in December that the states had to cut a total of $21.9 billion from their upcoming budgets to avoid deficits."

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