by Ron Gregory
CHARLESTON — If state legislators are anxious for a veto of their budget proposal, most indicated Thursday they expect Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to respond accordingly.
“I trust the Governor will never sign this bill,” said Delegate Justin Marcum of Mingo County. “I hate this partisanship and everyone blaming everyone else for the mess we’re in. But Governor Tomblin is a fiscal manager; he knows robbing $200 million from the Rainy Day Fund is a recipe for disaster.”
Actually, a bill approved by the State Senate earlier in the day and a companion bill expected to be approved by the House later Thursday takes $193 million from the “emergency expense” fund.
Even House Speaker Tim Armstead, whose Republican majority has insisted on no new taxes or fees, admitted Thursday robbing the Rainy Day Fund is “not something we want to do every year, or any year.”
But with GOP members in the majority in both legislative houses and many having signed pledges not to increase taxes or fees, there was little alternative, Armstead explained.
Proposals to raise additional revenue, including a tobacco tax proposed by Tomblin, have all been shot down by the Republican majority during the extended budget session.
“Governor Tomblin is an excellent steward of our finances,” said Delegate Phyllis White of Mingo. “He will not let them deplete that Rainy Day Fund. Tbey better figure out something else.” Both White and Marcum are Democrats.
Under the budget proposed by the legislature, there will also be job furloughs and funds swept from semi-dormant accounts to balance the budget.