Lawmakers worried about state budget cuts

CHARLESTON – Local lawmakers do not expect many problems in finalizing the state budget and getting it approved this week, but said many will not be happy as the state is expected to make around $28 million in cuts.

Last week, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin issued a proclamation extending the 2013 legislative session for six additional days, allowing for further consideration of the budget bill.

The regular session of the Legislature ended Saturday at midnight.

The Legislature will consider only the budget bill this week.

Before the start of the regular session, Tomblin ordered most departments to cut their budget by 7.5 percent this year as the budget surplus will not be as big as in years past. There is lower coal severance tax revenue coming in, gambling revenue is down and Medicaid costs are rising.

Some departments, including education and law enforcement, are exempt from cuts. The governor had said if the cuts were across all departments, it would have amounted to a 2 percent cut.

Sen. David Nohe, R-Wood, said cuts will be “painful” for some departments as around $28 million in cuts are expected to be made.

”Someone will not be happy,” he said. ”These cuts will hurt some people.”

Sen. Donna Boley, R-Pleasants, said budget concerns were discussed in the days leading up to this week.

”A lot of preliminary work has already been done on the budget,” she said.

Delegate Anna Border, R-Wood, hopes that unused money can be moved around from various accounts to fill in some of the expected shortfall.

”There really is so much waste,” she said. ”There are jobs that are funded through the budget that have not been filled in years. I just hate to have all of these cuts.”

Regardless, a budget is expected to be in place by Friday.

”The budget will be presented as always and it will be passed,” Border said.