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Even after covid effects on economy, W.Va. budget proposal holds steady

Although Gov. Jim Justice proposed an income tax phase-out and other significant changes to West Virginia’s tax code, those measures are not reflected yet in the budget his administration has introduced.

“I have delivered to our speaker and our president that flat budget that I have referred to,” Justice said during his State of the State address on Wednesday evening.

Flat spending is a key component of Justice’s financial plans for the next several years. To take effect, his proposals would need to be passed by the Legislature and then would need additional time to actually go into effect.

The budget proposal does, however, reflect the effects of covid-19 on the state’s business climate.

After all the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, Justice’s administration is proposing a stable, $4.569 billion budget.

“We feel like we’re as stable today as we were last March when the legislative session ended,” Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy told reporters in an overview session of the coming year’s budget proposal.

Hardy said the overriding goal in developing the budget for the coming fiscal year was to ensure stability and continuity of state government. That’s a basic goal, but needs to be stated because of the way the coronavirus pandemic hit the economy.

“The takeaway from this budget is, it’s a flat budget. It’s a budget based on last year. When we’ve been able to pull that off at a time when our revenue sources have been completely altered and changed by the pandemic and other economic sources,” Hardy said.

West Virginia’s economy, because of a stay-home order and diminished consumer confidence, experienced a sharp downturn last April and May. Since then, state officials said, economic activity has recovered steadily.

Hardy said state revenue estimates for the coming fiscal year are right in line with what they were last year. Read from source….