Tomblin: No special session until there’s a budget agreement
By Phil Kabler, Staff Writer Gazette-Mail
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said Wednesday he doesn’t plan to call the West Virginia Legislature into special session to pass the 2016-17 state budget until there’s agreement on how to close a $270 million budget shortfall — and he said that hasn’t happened yet.
“I think there’s a spirit to come together and work, but there’s not been an agreement reached,” Tomblin said on the 32nd day of the state budget impasse.
“It’s not my plan to call them back in without some kind of an agreement.”
A key sticking point is in the House of Delegates, which rejected a number of tax increase proposals during the regular session, including a bill to increase tobacco taxes that had passed the Senate by a 26-6 margin.
That bill was crushed on a 21-3 vote from the House Finance Committee, as a coalition of Republicans opposed to any tax increases and Democrats holding out for a $1-a-pack increase combined to defeat the proposal, which, at the time, called for a 45-cent-a-pack increase.
Tomblin said Wednesday it still appears the Senate has the votes to pass a tobacco tax increase but the House remains doubtful. “There’s an indication from Senate leadership that they will definitely go for a 45-cent cigarette tax [increase],” the governor said, “but I have not had a clear signal from the House leadership.”
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