For the second year in a row, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s proposed budget includes cuts to important programs like higher education and early childhood programs. To close other budget gaps, the governor draws from one-time revenue sources, including the state’s Rainy Day Fund and Road Fund, instead of working to secure the state’s long-term fiscal health.
A report released today by the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, “The Governor’s FY 2015 Budget: Doing Less with Less,” provides an in-depth analysis of what the governor’s proposed budget would mean for the state.
“Instead of dealing with the state’s long-term revenue problem, the governor’s proposed budget kicks the can down the road by using one-time money and by cutting vital programs such as In-Home Family education,” said Ted Boettner, Executive Director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy and one of the report’s authors. “To build a stronger economy, we need to invest in the things that really create jobs, like higher education, early childhood education programs, and infrastructure.”
The report provides a series of recommendations that the legislature could consider, instead of continuing to cut programs important to the state’s low- and middle-class families and the state’s prosperity. These include raising the tobacco tax, expanding the sales tax to more goods and services, following the federal lead by doing away with the personal tax exemption for high wage earners, and updating the state’s tax brackets to bring them in line with inflation.
Faced with a $216 budget gap, the governor proposes cutting agency funding by $70 million, using $83.8 million from the Rainy Day Fund, making $14.5 million in one-time reductions and making a supplemental appropriation of $50.4 million to Medicaid.
Along with higher education, important human services programs like In-Home Family Education, Child Advocacy Centers, and Early Intervention are being drastically cut because of the state’s revenue problems. This year and next year, funding for higher education is expected to decline by $51.8 million and continue to drop over the coming years.
“Developing a well educated workforce is pivotal to growing and strengthening West Virginia’s economy. Unfortunately, Governor Tomblin’s budget makes this more difficult by continuing to make cuts to higher education, with no plan to restore these cuts in the future,” stated Sean O’Leary, Fiscal Policy Analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy and the report’s coauthor.
The full report is available here. The West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy (www.wvpolicy.org) is a public policy research organization that is nonpartisan, nonprofit, and statewide. The Center focuses on how policy decisions affect all West Virginians, especially low- and moderate-income families.
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