CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia was facing “uncharted waters” had the federal government shutdown gone beyond one month. That according to state Revenue Secretary Bob Kiss.

“There are a bunch of issues that you run into that we don’t have any clear guidance on,” Kiss told a Legislative interim committee Monday morning. “Those are the kinds of things that may make some logic for the Legislature to start looking at, certainly on an interim cycle.”

Kiss along with the governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff Jason Pizatella addressed a joint committee on finance Monday at the state Capitol.

Pizatella said a little more than a week before the government shutdown, which started on Oct. 1, his office sent out word to all departments within the state to prepare for two scenarios. One of those was a shutdown that lasted for less than a month, the other, a shutdown that extended beyond Nov. 1.

The shutdown ended with a vote by Congress on Oct. 17.

“I am very pleased to say that we did not have to change or curtail or eliminate any programs,” explained Pizatella. “We did not have to curtail or change any positions. There were no layoffs. There were no furloughs.”

With the partial shutdown deadline extended to Jan. 15 and the debt ceiling to Feb. 7, Pizatella said we could be facing a similar situation again in just a few months.

“I think it’s safe to say that we are relying on and unreliable partner, at this stage, which is the federal government,” said Pizatella.

The state currently has 5,100 employees that are either fully or partially paid by the federal government. The deputy chief of staff stressed, at this point, the state doesn’t have the money to fund their salaries, if the shutdown were to go beyond one month.

“Should we have to take any action related to personnel or related to any of those positions that are strictly funded by the federal government, there was nothing in the West Virginia code that authorized us to take those kinds of temporary measures that we would need to take should the federal government shutdown go beyond November 1,” according to Pizatella.

In fact, Kiss said there are multiple programs that could come to a complete stop if a shutdown were more than a month.

“Some of these program, particularly DHHR’s programs, programs that are both state and federal funded, Medicaid being a good example and food stamps, that are entirely federal funded, the state would probably have been very hard pressed to carry those programs for more than several weeks.”

Kiss and Pizatella suggested it’s time for the Legislature to start considering how state government can insulate itself, as much as possible, from future instability.

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Comments

  • David Kennedy

    I'm going to blame it on BUSH...

    Why?

    Because the last time the Federal Government had a Budget was under Bush. 5+ years ago.

  • Derek

    You see the democrats are panicked at the idea of any interruption in social programs (Medicaid ect.)but they continue to support a president who is killing coal and jobs in WV because they are "good democrats" and they represent the party not West Virginian's !

  • CaptainQ

    Bob Kiss is 100% correct that WV needs to prepare for the next Federal government shutdown. The 'deal' that reopened the government is only a temporary measure and the way Congress works, they'll pretty much ignore the problem under a few days before the deadline and then try to ram something through to 'save the day' like both the Dems and GOP tried to do last time. What made this year's negotiations different was how the Tea Party wing of the GOP attempted to hold the White House 'hostage' to force a retreat from ObamaCare and deficit spending. How well did THAT turn out?

    The same morons who brought us the FIRST shutdown are still in power and (sadly) have the power to shut down the Federal Government AGAIN on January 16. If there's one thing we have learned from Congress over the decades, it's that they NEVER EVER learn from their past mistakes.

    So I hope Kiss will be allowed the flexibility to do whatever he can to help cushion the effects of the NEXT Federal shutdown in WV. It's not a question of IF it'll happen, but a question of WHEN and how well we'll be ready for it.

  • Buster

    Gee Michael, I guess it's insane to promote fiscal responsibility, lower taxes and less government intrusion? Your own third world state is the result of complete democratic control, 81 years and counting.

  • Interesting123

    OR the President could propose a budget that actually has a chance to pass. You know show some leadership.

    • WVIRGINIAN FOR LIFE

      Well said and on target.

  • Michael in WV

    Vote Democrat! Get the US House back for sure -- stop the Tea Party insanity, that is how you do it.