House Finance Committee passes FY2016 budget

Miranda Kessel
Communications Director
WV House of Delegates
The House Finance Committee adopted the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget which restores funding to transportation, higher education, veterans, seniors and special assistance programs for children and families.
House Bill 2016 for the FY2016 budget is a modified version of what was introduced and proposed by the Governor on January 14.  The Committee passed the FY2016 Budget (H.B. 2016) by a voice vote on Monday afternoon.   
 “Transportation funding is absolutely vital to the future of our state and we need to do all we can to maintain our roads and bridges.  While it is a tough budget year and we had hard choices to make, we were able to put $11.5 million back into the State Road Fund,” stated Speaker Tim Armstead (R-Kanawha).
Of the $11.5 million for the State Road Fund, $7.5 will be directed for secondary roads. The Committee also restored full funding for veterans, seniors and programs for families and children. 
 “I am proud of the House Finance Committee’s hard work to fully restore funding for veterans, seniors and special assistance programs, as well as reinstating $8 million in higher education funding,” Armstead added. 
   Higher education funding totaling $8 million was reinstated for the state’s higher education and community college institutions.  This is a restoration from the $12 million cut proposed in the Governor’s original budget.   Through this proposed budget and the passage of H.B. 3022, a total of $2 million has been appropriated for much needed renovations of the WV Schools for the Deaf and the Blind School.
Funding for the Deptartment of Veterans Assistance was fully restored to $1 million, while another $1 million was restored for programs that benefit senior citizens.  A total of $818,000 was restored to the previous year’s levels for programs that aid children and families.  Some of these programs include the Family Resource Network, Child Advocacy Centers and domestic violence programs.  The Committee also added $25,000 from last year’s funding for a total of $140,000 that will be appropriated to the Dept. of Agriculture for the Huntington Food Bank and Mountaineer Food Bank. 
House Finance Chairman Eric Nelson (R-Kanawha) commented, “After holding hearings from the affected agencies and listening to their concerns over the last 30 days, we looked at innovative ways to restructure funding.  We maximized our efforts in identifying excess revenue from varying funds that were re-appropriated to fund the budget.”
In order to restore funding, several reductions were made to the original proposed budget. This includes $2 million in cuts from the lottery purses to subsidize dog and horse racing. This decision takes the first step in addressing concerns associated with the state’s greyhound racing subsidies. Excess funds and budget cuts from constitutional offices also contributed to restoring funding, which includes a $1 million reduction from the House and Senate budgets.  
In working through the budget, approximately $22 million was obtained through the Revenue Shortfall Reserve Fund, known as the Rainy Day Fund.  Legislation authorizing the Governor to borrow from the Rainy Day Fund at no-interest for the renovation of Building Three on the campus of the State Capitol Complex was made as an alternative plan to his original request of a line-item of $9 million.    
A vote by the House on the FY2016 Budget is expected to take place on Thursday. 



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