West Virginia Press Association Staff Report
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gov. Jim Justice delivered his eighth and final State of the State address Wednesday night. At the conclusion of his speech, the governor’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 budget proposal was delivered to lawmakers. Recorded in the House of Delegates as HB 4025, the annual proposal seeks legislative approval to appropriate funding for West Virginia’s day-to-day operations.
Several hours before Justice publicly shared his recommended budget, members of the media were offered a preview of its bullet points by Acting Revenue Secretary Larry Pack.
“It’s really a phenomenal time to be in West Virginia,” Pack told reporters. “Our revenue is strong again – even with the largest tax cut in history passed last year.”
As part of the FY 2025 budget proposal, Justice is seeking to cut taxes even further this year – this time by an additional $49.7 million. This includes the exclusion of Social Security benefits from state income tax, the creation of a child and dependent-care tax credit, and the expansion of the senior citizen homestead tax credit. According to Pack, these adjustments would positively impact approximately 130,000 households in West Virginia.
“The tax cuts aren’t as large as last year, when they were in the $800 million range,” Pack said. “We’re very excited about all three cuts. There’s plenty of money in the budget to absorb it, and we’re hopeful that the legislature will agree and make these happen as soon as possible.”
“Our total revenue for the year is $5.265 billion for FY 2025,” Pack continued. “We’ve had three years of double digit revenue growth for the three previous fiscal years. We don’t expect it to be double digits this year, but it will still be really, really strong.”
As in years past, Pack explained, Justice instructed the Department of Revenue to construct a “programmatically flat” budget. FY 2025 reflects an increase of $381 million over the previous year. That increase includes the $123 million cost for the pay raise for state employees, $100 million for Congressional earmarks and floods, $50 million for contract nursing services at state facilities, and $21 million for Medicaid administrative costs.
“One reason the governor likes to be conservative in his revenue estimates is because it leaves room in the budget for one-time expenditures,” Pack noted. “This administration has been really good about playing catch-up with expenditure – especially with infrastructure. We’ve been able to do that all around the state.”
As part of his State of the State address, Justice cited the “Roads to Prosperity” program as being one of his administration’s biggest successes, referring to the completion of approximately 1,200 roadway projects as “unbelievable.” Justice further urged lawmakers to approve funding for the completion of the Corridor H, King Coal Highway, and Coalfield Expressway projects.
“On the expense side, again we’re as close to a flat budget as possible,” Pack explained. “We also have some supplemental appropriations the governor is asking the legislature to approve. This is money left over from the last fiscal year.”
Included within Justice’s supplemental appropriation requests are $150 million for the School Building Authority, $5 million for charter school seed-funding, $53 million to Sharpe/Bateman for nursing costs, $10 million for the Posey Perry Emergency Food Fund, and $30 million for the Nursing Workforce Expansion Initiative.
“About three years ago, the governor announced a program to train 1,000 nurses within the state over a three-year period,” Pack noted. “This is additional funding for year-three of that program.”
In summary, Pack told reporters, “If the economy is good, then revenue is good. That’s just the way it works.”
As our economy continues to bring jobs to West Virginia, then we’ll have no problem spending the money that’s necessary to take care of the folks in West Virginia,” Pack added.