Lawmakers increase tax on pack of cigarettes to $1.20,
pass $4.18 billion budget, shore-up PEIA and go home
The WV Legislature adjourned its almost three-week special session late yesterday
after passing a budget bill of $4.18 billion, increasing the tax on tobacco products
estimated to generate $98 million in new revenues, imposing $120 million in cuts
and assuring 230,000 state workers and retirees of PEIA health benefits.
In its quest to balance the budget, lawmakers raided several special revenue funds,
taking money to shore-up PEIA which was facing a $129 million deficit.  The Board
of Dentistry was saved from the sweep, but several other boards took a hit.
Failing to reach a agreement on the budget during the regular session (January
thru March), lawmakers had to come up with $270 million in revenues and cuts
to balance the budget, as required by the Constitution, or state government would
shut down June 30.  They met the deadline June 14, then went home.
Legislators are expected to face the same challenge in 2017 session, which begins
in January.