Gilmer Free Press

WV Legislative Update

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As we prepare to enter the first full week of the 2018 regular session of the Legislature, there are many unanswered questions.  The expectations were that Governor Justice would unveil his Executive branch legislative agenda during the annual State of the State address last Wednesday evening.  While I enjoyed his whiteboard illustrations and the relaxed delivery – a carryover from his 2017 address – listeners were left with a few proposals and little detail of how to fund or implement them.  However, I’m sure more details will be forthcoming in the days ahead.

My overriding concern remains as to how many of his proposals will be funded.  On the positive side, over $32 million was gained above estimates on investment returns with funds from various pension plans.  Good news, but this is one-time money and the possibility of getting a 15% return on state investments long term is extremely unlikely.

Another pocket of “found money” was revealed last Thursday during the Governor’s Office budget presentation to the House Finance Committee.  It appears that $103 million is available, as Medicaid was “overfunded”.  While any saving is good news, this raises concerns.  For years, Medicaid has needed additional funding and a large portion has been pushed back or taken from other sources.  With this revelation, it will be interesting to examine if payments to hospitals, doctors or other medical providers were delayed.  Or, since we have a waiting list of nearly three hundred aged and disabled waiting for services to be provided in-home instead of going to a nursing home.  Could some of that been used to accomplish this vital function?  Likewise, does this represent a portion of funds for the IDD waiver program?  That will be just a few of the questions that will be posed to DHHR during their budget hearing later this month.

There is no doubt that the State economy is slightly improved verses last year. However, concern remains that many of the initiatives either discussed or rumored to be introduced may be based on overly optimistic revenue projections in the next few years.  Also, critical agencies like Corrections, State Police, Higher Education and PEIA will need major funding, as well as long-promised increases for teachers, state employees and school service personnel.

High interest was generated by the budget hearing for the WV Supreme Court last Friday morning.  After some well-publicized extravagant renovations to office space, Chief Justice Allen Loughry provided the Court’s budget, which includes circuit courts, family courts and magistrate courts and their employees.

Adding to the controversy, West Virginia is one of the few states that does not place the Supreme Court budget under the oversight of the Legislature.  Constitutionally, what the Supreme Court submits for their budget is what they receive.  The Legislature cannot reduce their request.  While it has been discussed for years, the most recent publicity has renewed interest by some legislators in a state constitutional amendment being placed before the voters in November.

The WV Lottery also provided information to the Finance Committee.  Known for their conservative revenue estimates each fiscal year, they predict relatively flat revenue due to the competition from surrounding states. 

Finally, Congratulations to Braxton County High School and Gilmer County High School for being honored by the WV Department of Education.  Both are among the West Virginia schools that have achieved a graduation rate of 90% or greater.  At a time when employers are looking to locate or expand where there is an educated, drug-free workforce, high school graduation rates are a good indicator of students getting additional technical or vocational training or moving on to a college degree.

Congratulations to GCHS and BCHS for continuing to make improvements that will benefit our kids and central West Virginia, now and in the years ahead.

Please send your inquiries to the Capitol office:  Building 1, Room 258-M, Charleston, WV 25305.  My home number is 304.364.8411; the Capitol office number is 304.340.3142.  If you have an interest in any particular bill or issue, please let me know.  For those with Internet access, my legislative e-mail address is:

You may also obtain additional legislative information, including the copies of bills, conference reports, daily summaries, interim highlights, and leave me a message on the Legislature’s web site at www.legis.state.wv.us/.  When leaving a message, please remember to include your phone number with your inquiry and any details you can provide. Additional information, including agency links and the state government phone directory, may be found at www.wv.gov. Also, you may follow me on Facebook at “Brent Boggs”, Twitter at “@DelBrentBoggs” , as well as the WV Legislature’s Facebook page at “West Virginia Legislature” or on Twitter at twitter.com/wvlegislature.

Continue to remember our troops - at home and abroad - and keep them and their families in your thoughts and prayers.  Until next week – take care.

--> Tuesday, January 16, 2018
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