WVSPS – State of the State Legislative Update
Governor Jim Justice made his second State of the State speech Wednesday evening before a packed crowd in the West Virginia House of Delegates Chambers. The Governor’s message was a sharp departure from last year, highlighted by revenue projections that were negative last year but have now turned the corner “into the black.” Notably, Governor Justice pledged that no new taxes would be sought from his office for the coming session.
Governor Justice pledged to give state employees an across the board one-percent-each year pay raise for the next two years, with teachers receiving a one-percent-each-year pay raise for the next five years. Governor Justice declared that while things are improving, West Virginia must invest in itself by way of educating her youth and preparing them to enter the workforce. With natural gas developing at a rapid pace, West Virginia has to capitalize on the jobs produced by the industry. The Governor went on to ask for $20 million to help promote West Virginia tourism.
Governor Justice also discussed addressing our state’s opioid crisis, opining that the state needs to build more treatment facilities and employ more social workers and law enforcement officials. Along those lines, West Virginia Medicaid has about $160 million in surplus funds this fiscal year. Medicaid finished the year better than estimated because payments for the Medicaid expansion population were not as high as they were estimated when the projections were first made in 2016.
Governor Justice’s budget was presented to the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday. Some additional highlights from his budget proposal are as follows:
- FY 2017-2018 revenues through six months have been steady.
- FY 2018-2019 doesn’t anticipate using any Rainy Day Funds to balance the budget.