Monday, March 7, 2016

With coal and gas down, West Virginia faces budget quandary

(AP) — Long reliant on coal and natural gas taxes, West Virginia faces a budget quandary as its natural resource industries struggle and hardline legislative Republicans oppose higher taxes.

On Thursday, a House budget committee killed Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's plan to bring in $78 million annually by raising taxes on cigarettes, tobacco products and e-cigarettes. Even Democrats opposed the final version, saying it didn't go far enough.

A tax hike to cellphone and landline use proposed by Tomblin has not been considered at all. It would have yielded $60 million annually.

Without new money coming in, deeper cuts could loom, including layoffs at the State Police, colleges and universities, state hospitals and other agencies.


The 60-day legislative session ends March 12. A budget session will follow.