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State budget problems continue to grow

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State budget problems continue to grow
By Jeff Jenkins, WV MetroNews

State Revenue Secretary Bob Kiss said Friday the state’s budget problems are going to continue to grow following another month of missing the mark on revenue collections.

The state collected $290 million in taxes in November, which was $22.9 million below estimates. Following four months of the fiscal year, the state is $114.5 million below where it thought it would be, Kiss said.

“The problem is going to continue to grow. What we’re trying to do is to stay on top of the numbers, stay on top of the projections,” Kiss said.

The Department of Revenue has identified $40 million in other accounts it will ask the legislature to reallocate when it convenes for its regular session in January, Kiss said.

“If you put that on the table, it does require legislative action, but they are accounts we’ve swept in the past,” Kiss said.

The drag from severance tax revenues continues to have the most impact on the state’s overall revenues. It fell behind another $10.4 million in November and year-to-date the $74.3 million from the taxes on coal and gas are nearly $79 million below estimates. That’s 41 percent below last year’s receipts.

Kiss also pointed out during a conference call Friday the state Road Fund is struggling. November collections of $60.6 million missed estimates by $6.4 million. The downturn is being blamed on cheaper gasoline prices and the two-year registration option for motor vehicle owners.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin ordered a four pecent state budget cut earlier this fall that is supposed to save $95 million, but that alone won’t be enough, Kiss said.

“The (revenue) shortfall is now larger than the cuts that we anticipate saving,” Kiss said.