Update: WV House passes budget; sent on to governor

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Update: 6/17/2017

The West Virginia House of Delegates has approved a revised version of a budget bill that largely agrees with a Senate version. That bill has now been sent on to Governor Jim Justice.

The governor vetoed a budget plan approved at the end of the regular legislative session in April.

According to a news release by House Speaker Tim Armstead, the $4.225 billion state government spending plan features no tax increases for the General Revenue Fund, no cuts to the K-12 school aid formula and no cuts to the Medicaid healthcare waiver programs that benefit elderly or disabled residents. The budget also includes smaller funding reductions to higher education institutions.

Update: 6/15/2017

West Virginia's House has affirmed its support for more limited tax changes than the latest plan backed by Gov. Jim Justice and the state Senate.

The House voted 67-22 on Friday to substitute its plan to broaden the sales tax to cell phone service and digital products but leave the tax rate at 6 percent.

It would add an estimated $67 million in additional tax receipts and raise the general revenue budget to $4.28 billion.

The Senate on Thursday night voted 30-2 for legislation that would raise the sales tax to 6.5 percent, cut income tax rates initially 5 percent and establish tiered coal production tax rates.

Justice supports that approach. The Senate also approved a $4.33 billion budget with smaller cuts to higher education and other programs.

In a related development...

West Virginia's House has voted to quickly ramp up road repairs and reconstruction across the state supported by a higher gasoline tax, raised sales tax on car sales and higher motor vehicle fees.

The bill approved 59-32 on Friday is expected to raise more than $100 million a year.

It would also support bonding for Gov. Jim Justice's proposed highway rebuilding program, an economic stimulus proposal that requires voter approval.

The variable minimum wholesale gas tax would rise 3.5 cents a gallon, the vehicle sales tax increase from 5 to 6 percent and the annual vehicle registration fee rise from $30 to $40.

The Senate passed similar legislation.

However, the House version has lower tax and fee increases.

The differences have to be reconciled.

It could take effect July 1.


Gov. Jim Justice has proposed a revised tax plan to limit budget cuts in the state fiscal year that starts July 1.

The Democratic governor says Thursday his latest proposal would cut income tax rates by 5 percent, while also authorizing West Virginians in the two lowest tax brackets get rebate checks of $150 or $100.

It would also raise the sales tax from 6 to 6.5 percent.

This proposal follows the impasse reached Tuesday by House and Senate negotiators over proposed tax revisions to raise revenue.

Each house subsequently adopted a budget for the coming year that instead would cut funding for public and higher education and social programs more than Justice wants.

"I'll give it that we're trying, but there's a lot of people here at this great body that are really only here looking for your vote and need to do better. We need to do better than that. They need to be looking at what's great for West Virginia," said Justice.

He's also advocating tiered coal production tax rates.

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