WV lawmakers return, but no closer to budget deal

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WV lawmakers return, but no closer to budget deal
By Phil Kabler, Staff Writer, WV Gazette-Mail

Lawmakers were called back into session by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to try to come up with a 2016-17 budget.

On Monday, legislators opened a special session to pass West Virginia’s 2016-17 budget seemingly no closer to agreement on a $4.2 billion spending plan than when they left town at the end of the regular legislative session on March 15.

As the budget session opened, Revenue Secretary Bob Kiss acknowledged that Tomblin administration officials have not closed the chasm between their plan to raise revenue to close a $270 million shortfall in the budget and legislators’ desires to erase the deficit entirely or partially through spending cuts.

“The ramifications we’re looking at now will look like child’s play if we get past June 30,” Kiss said, referring to the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.

In calling legislators back into session on the 65th day of the budget impasse, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin presented them with three tax-increase proposals, asking them to come up with some combination of the three to raise $270 million to close the shortfall. However, Senate Finance Chairman Mike Hall, R-Putnam, said many legislators just won’t vote for any tax increases in an election year.

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