WV Legislature agrees on budget - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: WV Legislature agrees to budget, vote expected Friday

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UPDATE:

State lawmakers reached an agreement on Senate Bill 306, also known as the budget bill, March 13.

Millions of dollars from the Attorney General's Fund will go toward settling a disagreement lawmakers had on funding the Aged and Disabled Waiver Program for the Bureau of  Senior Services. 

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said his office has worked closely with legislators to come to the agreement.

"I am pleased to announce the Office of the Attorney General will be returning $9 million from the Consumer Protection Fund to the Legislature to help balance the state's budget and assist senior citizens and people with disabilities," Morrisey said in a news release Thursday night. "Through our actions, we anticipate many West Virginians will be taken off of the Medicaid Aged and Disabled Waiver Program waiting list and received the health care they need at home."

The fund is generally used to educate citizens about scams, investigate claims of wrongdoing and prosecute those who try to take advantage of residents.

"During difficult economic times, every office must do its part to put the taxpayers first," Morrisey said. "By doing our part and contributing $9 million to the General Fund, the Attorney General's Office is helping to reduce the amount of money the state needs to withdraw from its Rainy Day Fund."

Morrisey said since taking office in 2013 he has returned about $16.5 million in settlements back to the state Legislature.

"This agreement is a success for all West Virginians," he added.

A special session will likely be called Friday or Saturday to take up other budget appropriations bills and other measures that could fill more gaps in the already agreed upon state budget.

Lawmakers are expected to pass the budget Friday afternoon.

Other organizations satisfied with the bill passing included the West Virginia Child Advocacy Center. Proposed cuts to fight child abuse prevention and domestic violence were reinstated to the state's budget with a $200,000 increase.

Original Story Thursday, 3/13:

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on March 12 called for an extension to the West Virginia Legislature's budget session.

The budget session, which immediately follows the regular session, is usually complete in a few days, sending lawmakers well on their way home after the 60-day crunch of the regular session.

However, because of the state of the budget and the trouble of passing some bills that could have helped balance it, Tomblin called for an extension to the discussions on the state's budget, adding two more days to the call and keeping lawmakers at least through Friday March 14.

House Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison, said the budget is expected to be agreed on by Thursday afternoon, but according to state code, will have to lie over one day before it can be voted on the following day. 

After they pass the budget, lawmakers are expecting to hear from Tomblin yet again calling a special session to address several bills that weren't passed during the regular legislative session.

House Bill 4411, which would allow for the disposal of drill cuttings and associated drilling waste generated from well sites in landfills, is one bill Miley says would be reconsidered in a special session.

House Bill 4333, a budget bill referred to as the haircut bill, also would be reconsidered by the Legislature. He said lawmakers have come to an agreement on the bill.

Senate Bill 379, reclassifying counties, also will be up for discussion, the House made last minute amendments that the Senate would not agree on.

The bill would have called for pay raises for county commissioners, county clerks, sheriffs, circuit clerks, assessors and prosecutors. The 12 percent pay raise would've gone into effect in 2017.

According to lawmakers, county officials have not seen a pay increase in eight years.