Your #dontshutdownmystate texts and posts worked!
As we mentioned in last week’s Budget Beat, the Senate and House agreed to raise the tobacco tax by 65-cents/pack, forging a compromise to raise much-needed revenue and balance the budget with less reliance on the Rainy Day Fund.
Today, Governor Tomblin signed the resulting budget bill (SB 1013) passed earlier this week. To fill the $270 million budget shortfall, this new version takes $70 million from the Rainy Day Fund, and includes $98 million in tobacco taxes along with additional budget cuts. Read more here from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy on how other states are dealing with their own budget issues.
While it is great news that a government shut down has been avoided, there were still substantial budget cuts made by the legislature and the governor to fill the huge budget gap. This week the Division of Forestry announced, then cancelled, plans to lay off 37 workers. Affected employees protested, causing officials to delay their decision which comes as a reaction to $1.7 million in budget cuts to their department. Here’s more in this week’s Charleston Gazette-Mail.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently released proposed rules that, if strengthened, could rein in the worst abuses of payday and car-title lending. Thankfully West Virginia protects against abusive payday loans, but the CFPB still needs to hear from you.
Payday loans notoriously carry 300+% APR (annual percentage rate). Strategically located in low-income neighborhoods, payday lenders intentionally trap borrowers in debt that they cannot escape. The average payday borrower is trapped by ten transactions in a year.
Though West Virginia does not legalize these predatory loans, we still need a strong rule. Payday lenders will use a weak rule to seek a green light to come into West Virginia.
The first-ever Summer Policy Institute (SPI) is right around the corner, taking place at WV Wesleyan College from July 29-31.
We need your help! To ensure that all students can attend, we need sponsorships from organizations and individuals.
For a limited time, if you sponsor at a level of $100 or more you will receive our inaugural t-shirt.
Thank you for your support!
We have a great newsletter, join below: