Blog Posts > Final 2025 Budget Makes Deep Cuts to Medicaid, Fails to Meet Important Needs
March 28, 2024

Final 2025 Budget Makes Deep Cuts to Medicaid, Fails to Meet Important Needs

Late in the evening on the final day of the 2024 regular session, lawmakers passed what they referred to as a “skinny budget” totaling $4.997 billion in general revenue for FY 2025. The enacted budget reflects a spending increase of $122 million over FY 2024’s budget, but it is $226 million less than what the governor originally proposed and 12 percent, or over $700 million, less than the FY 2019 budget after adjusting for inflation.

The main spending increase in the budget was for the average five percent public employee pay raise, promised by lawmakers to offset PEIA premium increases. Additionally, legislators passed HB 4880, which phases out the income tax on Social Security benefits for the top 10 percent of seniors. Lawmakers also allocated $120 million in FY 2024 surplus revenues to several areas including higher education, tourism, Medicaid, and the Hope Scholarship, the state’s private school voucher program. Notably, the allocations to tourism, Medicaid, and the Hope Scholarship all reflect annual, base budget spending that will continue in future years and should be accounted for in the regular budget.

Final Budget Makes Deep Medicaid Cuts

The biggest casualty of the “skinny budget” was the Medicaid program. While the governor’s budget contained increased appropriations as well as support for an increase in the tax on Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) to address rising costs due to inflation and the end of the increased pandemic-era federal match, the final budget enacted by the Legislature axed both of these proposals. As such, the FY 2025 enacted budget leaves Medicaid with an approximate $147 million state funding shortfall ($79 million in reduced base budget program allocations, $12 million in reduced administrative funding, and $56 million from the failure to pass the MCO tax increase). Because Medicaid is a state-federal matching program, each dollar reduction in state funds forfeits federal dollars. All told, the reduction in state Medicaid funding in the FY 2025 enacted budget compared with the governor’s budget proposal could reduce the total Medicaid budget by $628 million, or almost 12 percent of the entire Medicaid program.

Safety Net Supports for Families Cut or Left Unaddressed

Heading into the session, the governor and legislative leaders said funding for child care was a top priority, with a package of seven bills introduced to increase supports for families and to stabilize child care providers who are facing a funding cliff with the end of federal COVID funds. The most important legislation for child care providers would have allocated about $40 million to the child care development program to reimburse providers more robustly, a policy that was temporarily put into place during the pandemic to ensure stability. Ultimately, none of those bills passed and there was no funding increase for child care in the final budget. In recent years, child care funding has not just remained flat but has been reduced, down nearly 50 percent in nominal dollars compared with FY 2014.

In the final budget, lawmakers also reduced funding for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, another state-federal matching program and the state’s only cash assistance program for very lowincome families. In the enacted budget, the line item for the TANF Maintenance of Effort, or required state match, was reduced by $2.5 million, which means that the state will lose that much in federal dollars as well. In addition to providing cash assistance for very low-income families, TANF is also the primary source of funding for child welfare supports that aid primary prevention to keep children with their families as well as to fund supports for foster families. The final budget also eliminated the governor’s proposal for funding to hire 100 new CPS workers; instead, the line item for CPS workers was reduced by $4.9 million in the FY 2025 budget compared to the FY 2024 budget.

Looking Ahead

The FY 2025 budget continues to fall short of meeting the needs of West Virginians, eroding funding for public services and programs through attrition and failing to keep up with inflation. During the pandemic, infusions of federal funding into our public education system, Medicaid, and child care infrastructure essentially hid holes in the state budget that are now becoming more apparent. 

Income tax cuts enacted in 2023 are also constraining much-needed spending in programs that serve West Virginians. The first round of tax cuts reduced revenues by $600 million annually, with an additional $200 million to be lost in FY 2025 when property tax rebates go into effect. Additionally, annual tax cut triggers could continue to reduce the income tax, our single largest state revenue source, until it is eliminated with no replacement revenue. Those lost hundreds of millions of dollars could be spent reducing child poverty, ensuring that our public schools have the resources and support staff they need, and stabilizing child care providers and higher education institutions among many other valid needs. 

While lawmakers are expected to come back for a special session later this spring to address some spending needs they failed to enact in the budget, they likely will only allocate FY 2024 surplus funds—and the significant surpluses of prior years are not expected to be available in the future given the deep tax cuts and slowing of temporary factors like high energy prices and inflation that drove increased revenues. Surplus funds are considered one-time allocations and should not be used for ongoing spending, but the holes that lawmakers will be plugging with these temporary dollars are ongoing needs that need to be in the regular budget. This will likely create a larger crisis in coming years when far fewer surplus dollars are expected to be available. 

Moreover, the revenue uncertainty that plagued lawmakers during this session will continue to be an issue every legislative session that the automatic tax cut triggers remain in place. Until lawmakers break the tax cut fever, they will not be able to sustainably meet the needs of our people.

Read Sean, Rhonda, and Kelly’sfull FY 2025 budget analysis.

Legislature Fails to Address Incarceration Crisis During 2024 Regular Session

Ahead of the 2024 legislative session, there seemed to be broad consensus among lawmakers, Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) officials, and the public that addressing multiple crises in our criminal system should be a priority. On the surface, legislators seemed ready to take action. Over the course of the 2024 regular session, more than 400 bills related to criminal law were introduced.

Some of the factors driving the attention around our criminal system include:

  • Despite years of legislation criminalizing drug use, West Virginia maintains a fatal overdose rate nearly three times the national average.
  • In the last decade, state jails were the deadliest in the country. Over the last four years, at least 91 people died in jails.
  • Counties are facing ever-growing jail bills, crowding out other priorities that actually keep communities safe. Over the last decade, the state billed counties $180,797,333.75 to jail people pre-trial.
  • Each year 35,000 people are released from a state jail and another 2,800 people are released from a state prison. Current policy does little to help ease the transition home or to help people navigate well-known reentry barriers.

Instead of addressing these crises, the legislature accomplished little for folks impacted by the system.

Little to Improve the Lives of People Affected by the Criminal System

Many of the bills introduced in 2024 focused on increasing punishment after harm has already occurred, instead of preventing crime or harm before it happens. Approximately 175 of the criminal law bills introduced created a new criminal offense or increased a sentence penalty. For the second year in a row, a draconian drug policySenate Bill 154, passed the Senate, but again failed to move forward in the House.

A few bills addressed the extra burdens placed on people who have gone through the criminal system. Senator Laura Chapman introduced legislation to limit the use of criminal records in professional licensing (Senate Bill 493). Senator Glenn Jeffries attempted to end the counterproductive practice of suspending driver’s licenses for unpaid court debts (Senate Bill 479). Delegate Amy Summers sought to ensure that every person who left a state prison had a state-issued ID card, which has become a necessity for finding housing or work (House Bill 5565). Unfortunately, none of these sensible efforts made it out of committee – or even onto a committee agenda.

Some positive legislation did make it across the finish line, though often in a narrower form than criminal law reform advocates would have preferred. The legislature expanded expungement eligibility for people whose cases were dismissed (House Bill 4399). This is an important step forward, but expungement should be available to a far broader population. Another successful bill eliminated the mandatory incarceration imposed on people convicted of third offense shoplifting (House Bill 4998). People convicted of this felony offense are now eligible for parole, but they still face a maximum penalty of one to 10 years. Senate Bill 269 decriminalized test strips for controlled substances, which can be used to avoid accidental overdoses. Unfortunately lawmakers also passed legislation (House Bill 4667) that bans harm reduction programs from distributing smoking devices, which can reduce syringe use and related public health problems.

The Bills That Were Prioritized

Lawmakers primarily focused on increasing pay and earnings of the systems that profit from incarceration. One bill will provide sheriffs with higher fees for serving subpoenas and court notices (Senate Bill 240). Lawmakers also ensured per diem compensation for newly elected and senior status judges (House Bill 5430 and Senate Bill 649). And in spite of a year of scandal and lawsuits for the West Virginia State Police, lawmakers reduced the minimum age for a state police officer to 18 years (Senate Bill 712), and raised state police pay (House Bill 4883).

No bill represented these priorities better than Senate Bill 725, which was titled “clarifying conditions for pretrial release and maximum bail amount for certain defendants.”

Lawmakers could have offered any number of solutions to jail overcrowding, including providing guidelines to encourage more pretrial release, something the Legislature accomplished in 2020 – before reversing course the following year.

Instead, SB 725 increased the number of cases in which a magistrate judge would be required to set a money bond. While there is no evidence that posting a money bond increases court appearances or reduces pretrial crime, money bond does make it likelier that an accused person will await trial from a jail cell. The proposed bill also expanded the number of cases in which bond could be posted by a bail bondsman. Together these provisions would have sent more people to the state’s overcrowded jails and created more customers for the bail bond industry.

SB 725 sailed through the Senate Judiciary committee, then passed the Senate on a vote of 29 to 2. But after House lawmakers heard from magistrate judges, the House Judiciary Committee rejected the bill.  

A few days later, SB 725’s language was inserted into an unrelated bill that tackled pay scales for judiciary staff.  

Thankfully, in the end, the bill failed to advance. Lawmakers were unwilling to send more people to jail for industry profit.

Deserving of a Second Look

There is a limit to what state law can do to reform a criminal system dispersed across 55 county courts, city courts, and dozens of jails and prisons.

Still, two proposals demonstrated how legislation could dramatically improve the lives of people who live and work in jails and prisons. Senator Jack Woodrum and Delegate Kayla Young each introduced bills that would allow courts to take a “second look” at long prison sentences (Senate Bill 736 and House Bill 4021).

Under a Second Look law, if a judge finds that the person does not pose a threat to the community and the interests of justice no longer support the original sentence, the judge may grant release, place a person on supervision, or reduce the sentence term.

A Second Look policy provides a humane, evidence-based process for releasing people who no longer pose a threat to the community. Unfortunately, despite bipartisan sponsorship, neither Second Look bill advanced this session. But Second Look advocates will be back–at interims and at next year’s session.

The best chance we have for winning substantive change at the Legislature only comes when we combine solid research with real people power. If you are reading this and you are personally impacted by our state’s criminal system, we want to hear from you so we can come back stronger. Email Sara at to schedule a time to chat.

Read Sara’s full blog post or a recent article featuring her insight.

Join us at Summer Policy Institute 2024!

Summer Policy Institute 2024 is almost here!

SPI is a convening focused on policy, where participants learn the ins and outs of policy change through a research and data lens, as well as crucial skills rooted in community engagement and grassroots mobilization. Attendees will meet West Virginia leaders from government, non-profit advocacy, and grassroots organizing spaces to build relationships and networks.

Throughout the convening, participants work in small teams to identify and develop policy proposals to shape the future they want to see in the Mountain State, culminating in team “policy pitches” to community leaders. Sessions will equip participants to focus on defining the problem as an essential first step before progressing to proposing solutions. This will ensure that no fully finalized policy ideas emerge from SPI without authentic engagement–and ideally partnership–with the people most impacted.

Many SPI attendees have gone on to continue advocating for their policy ideas and to hold internships with West Virginia non-profits and in state government.

To learn more, visit our event page here.

To apply, please complete this Google Form and submit your brief letter of interest to The application deadline is May 1, 2024.

Cuts to Unemployment Insurance Harm West Virginia Families and Local Economy

West Virginia lawmakers passed SB 841 on the final day of the 2024 legislative session, slashing unemployment insurance (UI) benefits despite more than 1,500 workers receiving layoff notices in the preceding weeks. These cuts will have a devastating impact on families and will further harm our state’s economy. Arecent article, including insight from WVCBP executive director Kelly Allen, provides further details. Excerpt below:

Critics say a bill passed by West Virginia lawmakers increases the bureaucratic red tape folks who rely on unemployment benefits have to navigate and could financially hurt families already struggling with the high cost of living and ongoing inflation.

Kelly Allen, executive director with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, said the bill includes new reporting from employers and job research requirements for recipients, but keeps the maximum number of benefits available at 26 weeks.

“Safety-net kind of programs like this, that help bridge families between jobs and keep them economically secure, is a really important tool,” Allen said.

Senate Bill 841 also limits the amount of money employers pay into the unemployment fund to $9,500 of an employee’s earnings. Supporters of the bill argue the state’s trust fund is in peril and say the measure helps save money.

Allen pointed out that research shows unemployment insurance helps families stay afloat during economic downturns, and provides continuous income for basic household needs. She added that unemployment insurance has also been linked to reduced rates of child abuse and neglect.

“We know that generous unemployment insurance and robust unemployment insurance benefits mitigate the impact that those economic shocks have on families and the data shows can actually reduce child welfare involvement,” Allen continued.

According to state data, the state’s unemployment rate was nearly 5% as of the beginning of this year.

Read the full article.

Share Your Medicaid Experience With Us!

The WVCBP’s Elevating the Medicaid Enrollment Experience (EMEE) Voices Project seeks to collect stories from West Virginians who have struggled to access Medicaid across the state. Being conducted in partnership with West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, EMEE Voices will gather insight to inform which Medicaid barriers are most pertinent to West Virginians, specifically people of color.

Do you have a Medicaid experience to share? We’d appreciate your insight. Just fill out the contact form on this webpage and we’ll reach out to you soon. We look forward to learning from you!

You can watch WVCBP’s health policy analyst Rhonda Rogombé and West Virginians for Affordable Health Care’s Mariah Plante further break down the project and its goals in this FB Live.

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