As the 60-day legislative session draws to a close, the legislature turns its attention to the budget.
This week, Governor Tomblin sent a letter to the legislature, requesting a number of adjustments to his original budget proposal. Like the adjustments he requested during the crafting of his 2014 budget, these are driven by changes to the school aid formula calculation. As a result, the governor now proposes borrowing only $15.5 million from the Rainy Day Fund, down from $25 million.
The governor’s request increases the local share of the School Aid Formula by $12.5 million. The local share is determined by local property tax revenue, and if property taxes are higher than expected, the state can then save money through the formula. This, along with other changes to the formula, will net the 2016 state budget an additional $12.3 million.
With $12.3 million freed up from the school aid formula, the governor recommends increasing the General Revenue appropriation for Medicaid by $9.1 million. Since he originally proposed borrowing $24.7 million from the Rainy Day for this purpose, the additional $9.1 million in General Revenue appropriations will reduce the amount needed from the Rainy Day Fund to $15.5 million.
The remainder of the savings from the school aid formula is spread throughout various agencies, dampening the impact of the vacancy sweep and allowing some agencies to keep some vacant positions open. Other adjustments reflect statutory changes that reorganize the budget, including moving the GO HELP program and the Children’s Health Insurance Agency to the Department of Health and Human Resources, while some agency reductions were made smaller in order to maintain federal funding.
Senate and House leadership will likely take up the governor’s proposed 2016 budget bill, along with today’s changes, at the conclusion of the regular 2015 Legislative Session.
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