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Brief -- West Virginia Budget

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's spokesman said on Friday that the governor would veto a budget passed by the legislature on Thursday that uses $183 million of Rainy Day reserve funds and $62 million of one-time funds from various state accounts to balance a deficit. The state has been without a 2016-2017 budget since March when lawmakers failed to pass it after they couldn't agree on tax increases and spending cuts (see Shale DailyMarch 15). Instead they relied on the reserve and one-time funds to plug a $270 million shortfall. Tomblin's office said the budget doesn't address a $380 million shortfall that's projected for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 and said tax increases are going to have to be a part of the solution. The state has long relied on coal and natural gas severance taxes to balance its budget, but the commodities downturn has strained its finances. It has already cut state spending on the falling revenues (see Shale DailyOct. 6, 2015). The state has projected a significant decline in FY 2016 severance tax collections, reflecting coal's sustained fall and stagnant gas prices. A special session has been scheduled for June 12. If lawmakers don't pass a budget by July 1, state government would shut down.

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