Senate plans to vote on budget bill, passes furlough bill

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Senate plans to vote on budget bill, passes furlough bill
By Brad McElhinny, WV MetroNews
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Senate leaders say they plan to vote after 5 p.m. today on a budget bill.

“Our goal by this evening is to reach a resolution on our budget,” Senate Majority Leader Ryan Ferns, R-Ohio, said at the conclusion of this morning’s floor session.

The Senate also this morning passed its own version of a furlough bill ahead of the new fiscal year, July 1.

The budget bill could take two possible shapes. One would be a $4.1 billion dollar budget bill that takes into account an original revenue estimate of $4.055 billion plus additional revenue measures earlier passed by the Legislature.

Another possibility is a $4.233 billion budget that would depend on the Senate receiving an official letter from the governor’s office advising of further increases to revenue estimates.

Those revised revenue estimates are based somewhat on improving energy sectors but also on the governor’s belief that a large-scale highways program will bolster the state economy.

The Senate has passed the governor’s highways bills, although the House of Delegates has not.

Governor Jim Justice has advocated for a budget of $4.35 billion.

The Senate bill would not include the Save Our State fund or the teacher payraises the governor wants.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael told reporters today that the remaining difference would be made up through cuts to higher education and the Division of Health and Human Resources.

Read more here.