West Virginia Legislative Brief: Commentary from Gil White 1/18/19
Legislative Action by the Numbers:
498 bills introduced in the House of Delegates
342 bills introduced in the State Senate
6 bills have passed the House of Delegates
8 bills have passed the State Senate
My View from the Capitol:
Today marks the completion of the first full week of the 2019 Regular Legislative Session. As Legislators begin this session, they find themselves on better financial footing than in years past. In 2017, there was a $217 million hole in the fiscal budget. In 2018, there was a $497 million hole in the fiscal budget. Today, the state has a record budget surplus for the fiscal year 2019 that ends on June 30th. During the first six months of this fiscal year, there is a $185.9 million surplus. Add to this $58 million that was unappropriated by the Legislature, netting $243 million with this surplus expected to continue to grow.
The Governor, Senate, and House leadership have outlined their 2019 Legislative priorities. Highlights are :
• Tax reform - including the elimination of the personal income tax on Social Security
• Begin the process on the elimination of the property tax on business equipment and inventory noting this will require a 2/3 majority vote in both chambers in addition to a statewide vote as this changes our State Constitution.
• Increase the homestead exemption
• 5% pay raise for teachers and most public employees
• $150 million to shore up PEIA
• Broadband expansion and investment
• Additional funding for secondary road improvements
Finally, it’s important to keep in perspective the true state of economy in West Virginia when looking at the recent tax collections which vary grossly from the various regions within our state. West Virginia added 8,700 jobs in 2017. All but 300 of these jobs were created in eight counties- Jefferson, Berkeley, Monongalia, Marshall, Harrison, Doddridge, Ritchie and Jackson. The coal, natural gas, and pipeline industries account for 7,000 of these 8,700 jobs. This data shows the vast diversity and economic trending throughout West Virginia.
Legislative Calendar - Important Days to Remember
First Day - January 9
20th Day - January 28 - Submission of Legislative Rule-Making Review Bills due
35th Day - February 12 - Last day to introduce bills in the House
41st Day - February 18 - Last day to introduce bills in the Senate
47th Day - February 24 - Bills due out of committee in house of origin to ensure three full days for readings
50th Day - February 27 - Last day to consider bills on third reading in house of origin. Does not apply to the budget bill or supplemental appropriation bills.
60th Day - March 9 - Adjournment at midnight