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Tomblin: budget related bills should be priority of legislature

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Tomblin: budget related bills should be priority of legislature
Jeff Jenkins, WV MetroNews

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is concerned about the pace of the legislative session when it comes to his budget proposals, Tomblin told MetroNews Wednesday.

“I’m not sure we’re at gridlock but when you start to approach the halfway point of the session and we’re not really having any discussions on where we’re going and what the other proposals are I start to get a little nervous,” Tomblin said in the interview that took place in the hallway outside his office.

Tomblin said his budget and revenue enhancing bills have been in the possession of the legislature since the session began and as of Wednesday only one supplemental budget bill was on the way to his desk.

Tomblin introduced four supplemental bills aimed to help the current year budget. The Senate approved all four bills quickly but Democrats in the House tried to amend their PEIA fix into one of the bills. The other three are scheduled for first reading during Thursday’s floor session.

“I would hope that the House Democrats and Republicans could come together and realize the importance it is for the state to be fiscally responsible and pay our bills and get he supplementals passed,” Tomblin said.

The governor commended the Senate for passing the bills quickly.

Both Senate President Bill Cole and House Speaker Tim Armstead have said they are working on solutions.

“We passed the Governor’s supplemental appropriations bills as quickly as possible so we could get to work on other issues we believe are critical to growing our state’s economy and moving West Virginia forward,” Cole said in a statement given to MetroNews. “Fiscal responsibility is a cornerstone to economic development, and we are committed to finding workable solutions to our state’s budget crisis.”

The state is facing a $354 revenue collection hole. The governor’s plan to fill the hole includes an increase in the cigarette tax, a telecommunications tax and a shifting of revenue currently collected to help pay down the old workers’ compensation debt. The legislature hasn’t moved on any of the proposals.

“Those bills should be the priority of the legislature,” Tomblin said.