West Virginia lawmakers open a special session today | News, Sports, Jobs
CHARLESTON – Lawmakers will discuss more than $ 1 billion in appropriation requests when they attend today for a special session of the West Virginia legislature.
The House of Delegates and the Senate meet today at noon. Gov. Jim Justice issued a proclamation on Thursday calling the special session, which coincided with the interim legislative meetings regularly scheduled for June that began Sunday afternoon.
Justice is asking the legislature to approve appropriations to move unallocated federal funds for the 2021 fiscal year ending June 30 for the Department of Health and Human Resources and the Department of Education.
Justice is also asking the legislature to approve the use of $ 150 million in excess tax revenue for the current fiscal year to fund secondary road maintenance projects across the state starting in fiscal 2022. as of July 1.
According to a list of projects released by the Department of Transportation over the weekend, the Highways Division will use funding for 402 projects for 913.24 miles of work. Projects include repaving roads, repairing bridges, repairing slips and slides.
Addressing lawmakers at a joint meeting of the Legislative Assembly Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Department of Transportation Accountability and the Special Committee on Infrastructure on Sunday afternoon, Transportation Secretary Byrd White a said the money was needed now to get a head start on ready-to-go projects.
“There are projects in the 55 counties”, said Blanc. âWith this money, we intend to accelerate the realization of these projects. These projects were part of our longer term plan, but they weren’t scheduled until now. “
Senator Rollan Roberts, R-Raleigh, asked why the funding amounts differ from county to county. White said he had worked with Department of Health Deputy Commissioner Jimmy Wriston to focus more on competing projects than to ensure counties were funded equally.
“The money we spend in a county is secondary to what we did in a county and what needed to be done in a county” said Blanc. âWe have to move away from ‘we spent $ 100,000 in this county but we only spent $ 10,000 in this county.â The needs of different counties cost different amounts of money.
“I’m just trying to find an answer, so that people don’t throw stones at me” said Roberts.
The $ 150 million will come from the excess tax revenue of $ 389.6 million for the first 11 months of fiscal 2021. Cumulative collections for the last 11 months of the fiscal year amounted to $ 4.492 billion. , or 9.5% more than the estimates and 12.6% more. than the last 11 months of fiscal 2020.
The $ 150 million request comes on top of the $ 62.5 million in bonuses the state took from its final sale of bonds for Roads to Prosperity projects. The state was able to sell $ 200 million in general bonds for the Roads to Prosperity program at an interest rate of 2.56 percent last month.
According to its special session proclamation, justice asks the legislature to approve $ 809 million in federal appropriations for the programs of the Department of Health and Human Resources dealing with the prevention and treatment of drug addiction, health services community mental health assistance, energy assistance and temporary help for families in need. .
The largest appropriations include over $ 330 million for child care and development, over $ 248 million for the Health Division and over $ 152 million for the Social Services Division. For the Department of Education, Justice is asking the legislature to allocate $ 94 million in unused federal dollars, including additional funding for the school meals program.
Federal funding comes, in part, from more than $ 1.1 billion in dollars from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and in part from $ 1.9 billion that West Virginia is expected to receive from the bailout American. This includes direct funding to state and local governments, as well as specific funds earmarked for health and education. West Virginia received the first half of $ 1.355 billion in direct funding last month.
During the 2021 legislative session, lawmakers passed the 2014 House Bill, requiring the governor to submit any expenditure of federal funds during a state of emergency of more than $ 150 million to the legislature for consideration. and approval. Justice and legislative leaders have met in recent weeks to plan spending in coronavirus relief dollars.
Steven Allen Adams can be contacted at [email protected]