Gov. Justice continues to demonstrate true conservatism with budget proposals

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CHARLESTON, WV – On Wednesday during his 2019 State
of the State address, Gov. Jim Justice submitted two budget spending proposals
to the West Virginia Legislature.

Currently,
the state has a record Budget Surplus for Fiscal Year 2019, that ends on June
30. During the first six months of the fiscal year the surplus totals $185.9
million. This doesn’t take into account $58 million in funds that were left
unappropriated by the Legislature. Therefore, the actual surplus is $243.9
million with the expectation that the state will actually experience a larger surplus
by the conclusion of FY 2019.

“So I am
being very prudent and conservative,” Gov. Justice said. “I am proposing we
spend way, way less in the surplus funds that what we currently have and will
have come the end of June.”

Gov. Justice’s
plan is to spend $200 million of that surplus on the following:

·      $105 million will be dedicated to the
PEIA Stability fund. (An additional $45 million from various agency accounts, has
been identified by the Revenue Department, and will be added to make the total
contribution to the PEIA fund $150 million).

·      $20 million will be put into Jim’s
Dream to buy all the necessary equipment to do job training that will certify
and put recovering drug addicts and others back in the workforce and into
productive jobs.

·      $5 million to expand Communities in
Schools programs.

·      $200,000 to purchase vans for the
Veterans Transportation program

·      $6 million to address a shortfall uncovered
at the state Veterans Nursing Home in Clarksburg

·      $20.6 million to Corrections for
Regional Jail payments

·      $15.3 million for appointed counsel
fees in the Public Defender system since those billings are exceeding FY 2019
appropriations

·      $28 million for the Governor’s Civil
Contingency fund to address statewide issues that need immediate action.

“The
groundwork that we’ve put in place, the Roads to Prosperity, our commitment to
education, and our commitment to the Veterans has led to these phenomenal
surpluses and we are now able to do this incredible stuff and it is still very
conservative,” said Gov. Justice. “The Fiscal Year 2020 budget of $4.676
billion we have sent up isn’t even reflecting the current rate of inflation. Comparing
the revised FY 2019 to the proposed FY 2020, the revenue estimates increase by
$94 Million or 2.1% and the appropriations increase by $80 Million or 1.7%. So
we can accomplish everything the naysayers have been saying we can’t do without
risking the farm.”

Secretary of
Revenue Dave Hardy said the work of the Governor “illustrates financial expertise
at its best, business experience at its best and conservatism at its best.”

“Thanks to the hard work of a
lot of people we have an incredible story that’s taking place in West Virginia
and it keeps getting better,” said Gov. Justice. “Hope for our state and our
citizens has been restored and there are many, many brighter days ahead. Again,
my FY 2020 budget reflects this growth while making certain we remain fiscally
prudent.”

 

Highlights of the Governor’s
proposed FY 2020 budget include:

 

 

·      A pay raise of $2,120 for teachers, $1,150 for service
personnel, and $2,370 for other state employees (average of 5% raise), along
with the second year of a three year increase for Corrections employees.

·      Elimination of personal income tax on all Social
Security benefits.

·      Major new dollars for Substance Abuse programs, Social
Services, Tourism and deferred maintenance, including an additional $25 million
for the Jim’s Dream program ($5 Million to the Department of Education for
Childhood Drug Prevention Education, $10 Million to the Department of
Education, Vocational Division for Rehabilitation and a Workforce Readiness
Transition Program and $10 Million to the Department of Health and Human
Resources for Substance Abuse Treatment).

·      Funding 100% of Required Retirement Contributions.

·      No new taxes.

·      No use of Rainy Day Funds.

 

Gov. Justice said he also
remains committed to making sure that cutting government waste continues to be
a major part of his conservative approach to managing the state.

 

“We also have the potential to
save an additional $68 million after identifying that 2,007 positions have been
vacant for more than a year,” said Gov. Justice. “We’re going to cut waste
everywhere we can.”​