Things appear to be looking up again for the Mountain State.
That’s because the April revenue figures West Virginia lawmakers want to see before they craft a new state budget show tax collections in better shape than expected, Manchin administration officials said.
Deputy Revenue Secretary Mark Muchow said the month’s general tax revenues should exceed estimates by $15 million to $20 million. That would put state government back on track to end the current budget year June 30 balanced or with a minor surplus, according to The Associated Press.
A key month for annual tax collections, April’s numbers suggest the Legislature won’t have to cut spending in the next budget beyond the $200 million Gov. Joe Manchin has already announced, Muchow said.
“We needed to be on target for this year to reaffirm our estimate for next year,” he said. “The $200 million adjustment will probably hold.”
That’s certainly good news.
But Muchow also does not expect much of a revenue surplus, if any, to help lawmakers close that hole. Half of any excess general revenue must go to the state’s emergency reserve fund.
Both Manchin and legislative leaders decided to hold off on completing the new budget after general revenue missed projections by a combined $92 million in January and February. Lottery revenues are also down. The budget Manchin proposed to lawmakers when their regular session began relied on $4.4 billion from those two sources.
The House and Senate finished that 60-day session on April 11, and plan to complete a new state budget between May 26 and June 6. Muchow said the delay should also give lawmakers a better sense of the rules governing the influx of federal stimulus funds.
“They’re still being developed, but the picture has become clearer,” Muchow said.
A chunk of West Virginia’s estimated $1.8 billion share is meant to help stabilize the budget, though both the governor and lawmakers have sworn off tapping these temporary funds for anything but one-time expenditures.
At least one other state, Mississippi, has postponed work on its next budget because of lagging general revenue. All but four states — Alabama, Michigan, New York and Texas — begin their budget years on July 1.
West Virginia is among at least 42 states that have projected gaps in their upcoming budgets, according to the most recent review by the National Conference of State Legislatures. These threatened deficits totaled $121 million at one point, though the latest tally shows states have since reduced them to a combined $67.4 million.
The Mountain State’s coffers were expected to take in nearly $479 million during April, to bring the general revenue total so far this budget year to nearly $3.3 billion. Muchow credits personal income and sales and use taxes yielding more than projected. The former is likely due to improved processing of returns, he said. Given the ongoing recession, Muchow said sales and use taxes exceeding their $89.9 million estimate by about $3 million was a “nice surprise.”
The weakened economy still has that tax category down by around $40 million for the budget year. Other leading general revenues sources below estimate to date include corporate net and business franchise taxes.
Though fading, severance taxes on coal and other natural resources have helped offset much of these declines, Muchow said.
“The question for the next year is whether the energy markets will deteriorate any further,” he said.
We certainly hope they don’t.
In the meantime, we’re just happy that things appear to be looking up once again based on those April revenue figures.
Things appear to be looking up again for the Mountain State.
Coal industry can’t afford to give this administration and EPA more ammunition
Coal already has a bad name in Washington, D.C.
The whole industry got another black eye this week when Alpha Natural Resources Inc., one of the country’s largest coal producers, agreed to pay a $27.5 million fine and invest $200 million to reduce illegal water pollution in five states, including West Virginia.
Being observant, reporting suspicions can make difference for hurting children
If a child is hurting, we wouldn’t hesitate to help.
Or would we?
In a five-year span, 22,830 children were victims of some type of neglect or abuse in West Virginia. That’s an overwhelming number to think about.
Gee makes major impact and earns another term as WVU president
Let’s imagine that a graduate from West Virginia University in the early 1980s, when E. Gordon Gee was president, came back to get an extra degree now and couldn’t believe that E. Gordon Gee is “still” the president of WVU.
Effort to encourage purchase of goods produced in U.S. deserves support
The concept of encouraging the purchase of American-made products is certainly not new.
On the federal level, the Buy American Act was passed in 1933 by Congress and signed by President Herbert Hoover. It required the United States government to prefer U.S.-made products in its purchases.
‘Stop Meth, Not Meds’ backed by readers
In West Virginia, there is something referred to as “stop-sale technology” that prevents a person from going to more than one pharmacy to purchase over-the-counter medication that contains the active ingredient pseudoephedrine, a nasal decongestant.
It’s not an issue of stuffy noses that lawmakers were worried about when they created the system.
Even small steps play part in critical mission to reduce childhood obesity
Just two years ago, more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese, meaning they had excess body weight based on their height.
It’s a troubling statistic, and one that health officials have worked diligently to reverse.
Cutting-edge heart procedure at Mon General is saving lives
“I used to think I wouldn’t live to be 50. Well, I made it to 50 and then some,” Pearl Walls said.
Walls is likely alive today and able to tell her story to the Times West Virginian because of a cutting-edge procedure performed at Monongalia General Hospital — a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), which was only approved for use by the FDA in 2011.
Celebrate Dr. Seuss’ many works, magic words
You know his words.
You know them well.
Funds donated to United Way make community healthier, happier, safer place
A dollar you give to the United Way of Marion County could feed a hungry family.
That dollar could protect a woman and her children from an abuser.
Or the dollar could mean that a family receives credit counseling to lift them out of overwhelming debt.
It could fund Scouting programs, where boys and girls learn lifelong lessons.
Project Launchpad puts critical concept of diversifying state economy into play
The case for diversifying the state of West Virginia’s economy is past the point of debate.
While it is our hope that coal can continue to have a role in our nation’s power-generating matrix, we’ve learned our lesson about over-dependence on a single industry. Particularly being overly dependent on an industry that, in the eyes of federal regulators, is out of fashion.
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