Under the Dome is an update on actions and activities of the West Virginia Legislature, provided during the regular legislative session, interim sessions and special sessions for West Virginia University faculty and staff by WVU’s Office of State and Local Relations. This issue provides a review of the governor’s State of the State address, the first week of regular session, legislative budget hearings and recent vacancies and appointments.
State of the State Address
Using a whiteboard to explain his proposals, metaphors to convey his ideas and no teleprompter of scripted remarks, Governor Jim Justice delivered his first State of the State last Wednesday. The governor spoke primarily of the estimated $500 million budget gap facing the State, and his request for increased revenue and further cuts to fix the problem. The governor proclaimed that his budget was a “responsible” measure that would “generate new revenues, create jobs and invest in the Mountain State’s future.”
The governor’s revenue enhancements would increase teacher pay by 2% and create the “Save Our State (SOS)” fund to invest in road projects, tourism programs and economic development initiatives. He proclaimed that these new revenue enhancement measures would lead to the eventual elimination of the State’s income tax.
The governor also spoke on K-12 education changes, investment in drug treatment and the need for economic diversification. He called for the elimination of the Smarter Balanced Achievement Test for students and the A-F school grading system recently adopted by the State Board of Education, while announcing his plans to invest in drug treatment centers in several communities across the state and the appointment of a “Waste Czar” to cut unnecessary programs and positions from the State bureaucracy.
Governor Justice presented a budget for FY 2018 to close the projected $500 million gap by increasing revenue by $450 million, utilizing $30 million in one-time receipts from General Revenue and Lottery Surplus, and cutting $27 million from programs and agencies.
|Revenue Enhancement Changes:||Generates Revenue of:|
|Increasing the Sales Tax from 6% to 6.5%||$92.7 million|
|Removing Sales Tax Exemption from Professional Services||$82 million|
|Removing Sales Tax Exemption from Advertising Services||$5.6 million|
|Adding a Commercial Activity Tax of 0.2%||$214.3 million|
|Raising Beer Barrel Tax from $5.50 to $8.00||$2.8 million|
|Raising Wholesale Liquor Tax from 28% to 32%||$2.8 million|
|Workers' Compensation Redirect (one time)||$38.250 million|
|No General Revenue Transfer to Highways||$11.7 million|
|Eliminating the Film Tax Credit||$3 million|
|Cuts to Agencies and Programs||Generates Revenue of:|
|Eliminate Funding to 8 Regional Education Service Agencies||$3.7 million|
|Cut Funding to West Virginia University by 4.4%||$5.9 million|
|Cut Funding to Marshall University by 4.4%||$2.8 million|
|Cut the West Virginia Network||$1.7 million|
|Cut the College Readiness Program||$155,000|
|Cut the Division of Labor||$2.7 million|
|Cut Purchases for the State Vehicle Fleet||$369,000|
|Cut the Educational Broadcasting Authority||$4.6 million|
|Cut to the Division of Culture and History||$4.3 million|
|Cut the West Virginia Film Office||$341,000|
Additionally, Governor Justice detailed an increased in DMV license plate fees from $30 to $50, an increase in the gas tax by $0.10 and $1 hike in tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike.
Read the full budget (SB 199 and HB 2018) and follow its progress through the West Virginia Legislature.
The governor also outlined an “Alternative Budget” for FY 2018 that showed the type of cuts and position eliminations that would be necessary to reduce government spending by $450 million. Governor Justice indicated that he could not support such a budget. See the full details of the alternative budget plan.
Introduction of Legislation
595 bills have been introduced so far in the House of Delegates and the State Senate. Bills relating to higher education. Higher profile bills include:
- HB 4124 and SB 7 – Requiring House of Delegates Members Be Elected by Single Member Districts
- SB 32 – Increasing Higher Education Student Success
- SB 75 – Creating the Small Business Regulatory Review Board
- SB 76 and HB 2107 – Creating the West Virginia Second Chance for Employment Act
- SB 181 – Abolishing Regional Education Service Agencies
- SB 184 – Transitioning the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine to Nonprofit Corporation
- SB 188 – Correcting Definition of Telehealth in Medication-Assisted Treatment Programs
- SB 199 and HB 2018 – Budget Bill
- HB 2071 – Allowing the Medical Use of Cannabis Based Pharmaceutical Products
- HB 2079 – Abolishing the Higher Education Policy Commission
- HB 2144 – Relating to Relocation or Closure of State Higher Education Institution
- HB 2194 – Reducing Personnel Employed by the West Virginia Department of Education
- HB 2212 – West Virginia Firearms Freedom Act
- HB 2335 – Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education
To view all bills introduced, visit the "Bill Status" page of the West Virginia Legislature’s website.
Governor Justice recently appointed Charles Clements of Wetzel County to an unexpired term in the State Senate, replacing Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt. Senator Clements will represent a large portion of Monongalia County.
- Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol – Friday, February 24, 2017
- Higher Education Day at the Capitol – Wednesday, March 15, 2017
- Innovation and Entrepreneurship Day at the Capitol – Thursday, March 16, 2017
- Monongalia County and Preston County Day at the Capitol – Tuesday, March 21, 2017
- WVU and WVU Extension Day at the Capitol – Tuesday, March 28, 2017
- Last Day of Regular Legislative Session – Saturday, April 8, 2017
WVU at the State Capitol
Travis Mollohan and Rocco Fucillo, both from WVU’s State and Local Relations, represent WVU at the State Capitol during the legislative session. They can answer questions about any issues addressed by the Legislature.
To learn more about the Legislature, including district maps, bill tracking, committee assignments and a summary of legislative activities, please visit the West Virginia Legislature website.
To learn more about WVU’s legislative initiatives, please visit WVU's Government Relations site.
For questions or more information, contact Travis Mollohan, director, State and Local Relations, email: firstname.lastname@example.org; phone: 304-400-4963.