Still in deficit, but WV budget may be stabilizing

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WOWK) — Once again severance tax revenue from coal sales and from natural gas were down. That’s been a trend. For October the deficit was $3 million, bringing the total deficit for the first four months of the fiscal year to $33 million.

The Governor’s Office has warned of $100 million in spending cuts if things don’t get better. So far, the severance tax revenue has failed to meet projections for three of the four months of the fiscal year. Still, Republican leaders believe things are stabilizing.

“I want to reiterate to the people of West Virginia, that we did not spend all of this money in terms of what was given to us in a revenue estimate. We’ve been very conservative in the manner we have spent this money,” said State Sen. Mitch Carmichael, (R) Jackson – Senate President.

Economic forecasters are pinning their outlook on the holiday shopping season over November and December. They say those two months will be critical to West Virginia’s sales tax revenue bouncing back enough to avoid those budget cuts. Meanwhile, Democrats say the state needs more stable budget planning.

“Well, unfortunately, this is systemic. We see tax revenue for severance taxes go up and down consistently. Until we diversify and move our system away from this boom and bust process, we’re not going to see stable things for people in West Virginia,” said Del. Andrew Robinson, (D) Kanawha.

While the red ink continues, it’s not nearly as bad as 2015 and 2016, when state deficits approached a half-billion dollars.

“Much of the Legislature will be here at the Capitol on November 18th and 19th, for the monthly interim committee meetings. The state budget situation will once again get a good going over at that time,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.

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