Friday, March 11, 2016

West Virginia lawmakers OK starkly different budgets

(AP) — West Virginia lawmakers have cleared starkly different plans to cover a $466 million budget gap, setting up a stalemate that could last months.

The Republican-led House passed a budget Friday using $32 million from state reserves, $17 million in extra cuts and $72 million from agency accounts.

Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin opposes tapping reserves.

The GOP-led Senate on Thursday passed a plan raising $115 million through higher taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products, and a new e-cigarettes tax. Senators also depended on $20 million by eliminating greyhound racing subsidies.

The House killed or didn't consider those tax-raising measures and others.

Tomblin called lawmakers back into budget session Sunday through Tuesday. Without progress, Tomblin said he would bring lawmakers back this spring.

The 2017 budget year begins July 1.