Dominion-Post – Recently, The Dominion Post Editorial Board met with Kelly Allen from the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, and she taught us a few things about how the state’s budget works (or, as is sometimes the case, doesn’t work).
Read the full editorial.
Unlike many other states, the governor of West Virginia has the constitutional power to set the state’s budget for the coming fiscal year, which is based on its revenue estimates. It is up to the governor’s office to set the “size of the pie,” or the total dollar amount. The Legislature then decides how that money gets divvied up for the year. Legislators can technically go over the governor’s budget, but they must increase revenue in order to do so, which would mean increasing taxes — something they are hesitant to do. Instead, legislators have worked around flat budgets in the past by allocating one-time funds from the “surplus,” which is any revenue that comes in over the governor’s estimates for the prior fiscal year.
The last several years, Gov. Justice and his office have kept revenue estimates artificially low. When the state brings in more money than the low-ball estimate, that money becomes the surpluses that Justice likes to brag about.