Tomblin announces 2 percent budget cut for W.Va. government agencies

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Tomblin announces 2 percent budget cut for W.Va. government agencies
By MetroNews Staff

There will be an across-the-board mid-year budget cut of 2 percent for most state government agencies, according to a Tuesday announcement made by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin.

The governor said the reduction is due to the state’s General Revenue Fund falling behind by more than $87 million since July.

The cuts will include a nearly $11 million reduction to the School Aid Formula and a $25 million reduction to Medicaid, according to the announcement.

“This was a tough decision that stemmed from sustained budgetary challenges, but we must continue acting responsibly and taking the necessary steps to keep our state strong,” Tomblin said in a statement.

“While the cuts we’re enacting will not be easy, we must ensure a balanced budget, long-term financial stability for West Virginia, and smart decisions that allow for continuity of essential services for West Virginians.”

In addition, Tomblin announced the state hiring freeze will continue and nonessential travel for state employees remains restricted.

State Senate President Bill Cole (R-Mercer, 06) said in a statement, “While this mid-year budget cut is unfortunate, it certainly should not come as a surprise. Our state is deeply entrenched in perhaps the worst fiscal crisis in a generation, and these kinds of difficult decisions are necessary to ease some of the burden. I applaud Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin for proactively addressing this issue head-on, and I am confident that passing a sound, strong budget will be a top priority for next year’s Legislative leadership.”

In a separate statement, House Speaker Tim Armstead (R-Kanawha, 35) said:

“The Governor’s cuts in spending underscore the need to streamline state government and rein in spending, while also promoting policies that foster economic growth.”

“With this goal in mind, legislative leaders in September created the bipartisan Joint Committee on Government Efficiency, Transparency and Accountability (or GATE Committee) to review the entire structure of state government to find ways to consolidate, streamline or make wholesale reforms in order to make government more efficient and cut costs.

“Our GATE Committee is already well into its work to identify ways to make government more efficient and bring spending more in line with realistic revenue projections,” Armstead said. “We plan to consider the committee’s recommendations as we head into the upcoming legislative session.”