CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The chairman of the state Senate Finance Committee predicts lean times for the state in the months ahead. Senator Roman Prezioso said the numbers in the state budget make it clear changes will be forthcoming as lawmakers gather for the 2014 Regular Legislative Session.

“Our expenditures are growing at nine percent and our revenues are growing at one percent,” he said. “You can’t make ends meet.”

The Tomblin administration is formulating the budget which will be presented during the upcoming State of the State Address. The spending plan includes proposals from all state agency heads with a seven percent reduction for the coming year and a second proposal in which spending is static. Prezioso predicts it will probably come out somewhere between those two figures.

“We probably will have to look at some reserve funding for this year and next year to cushion the blow,” Prezioso said on MetroNews Talkline. “Then hopefully the economy will turn around and we’ll be back in good shape.”

He admits it’s all a long shot, but said everybody needs to be  working together which in an election year will be especially tough.

Higher education is working to be spared any budget cuts since their shortfalls are being added onto student tuition and fees. Prezioso said they are an agency which is unprotected.

“I wish I could say that but unfortunately I can’t,” he said. “They’re the unprotected part of the budget in the Constitution and State Code. They are probably going to see some cuts, there’s no question.”

He was also asked about a pay raise for teachers. Prezioso supports improving teacher pay. He said we’ve returned to the days of the Caperton administration when teachers were almost dead last in the nation, but admits it won’t be an easy fix.

“If we’re going to be competitive with our teachers, they’re going to have to have a pay raise,” he said. “The problem is if you’re going to improvise a pay raise for teachers, you’re going to have to go out there and raise taxes.  It’s as simple as that.”

Prezioso said the tobacco tax was the “low-hanging fruit” for a tax increase, but admitted it may not be enough.  He was uncommitted about any other possible increase.

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  • Docbegone

    We probably will have to look at some reserve funding for this year and next year to cushion the blow,” Prezioso said on MetroNews Talkline. “Then hopefully the economy will turn around and we’ll be back in good shape.”

    Good luck with that. 75,000 more on Medicaid as of 12/9/13. In 2017 WV must pick up 10% of the costs for expanded Medicaid. $ millions......
    raise taxes for teachers...another $40 miliion

  • The truth

    The thing is Manchin and Tomlin have done nothing for state employees when "times" we're good. I am a productive state employee that saves the state thousands upon thousands of dollars a year. I would just ask that agencies be allowed to grant merit raises if they have the budget to fund them. Tomblin and Manchin expressly forbid raises based on merit.
    You have agencies like DHHR that has 30% yearly turnover. People say government needs to run like the private sector. No private company could run with this turnover. All you get now is people getting experience and leaving. Tomblin is aware of what it will take to stop this turnover but he ignores it because it is now politically correct to use employees as whipping boy to gain votes. Tomblin however got his massive raise.

  • RogerD

    Looks like the WVEA and WVFT have fired up their rank and file. You guys need to open your eyes and realize this isn't 1990 anymore.

  • Myron

    So raise taxes already and implement teacher raises. Why is that so complicated?!

    • Bill Hill

      I'm not paying for teacher or any other government employee's pay raise with that money being taxed from my retirement income. (Period, end of sentence)

  • Gilbert Gnarley

    Memo to Mason County: your letter writing campaign to the state urging the completion of Rt. 35 is DOA.

  • john

    Looks like its time to use some of that over a billion, yes billion, dollars that is in the rainy day fund. Sounds to me like its raining right now.... I have no problem in paying teachers what they are worth, however, if you look at the average pay for teachers, although granted its not as high as our surrounding states, its well above what most of our regular state workers are paid, and it averages somewhere around $43,000 per year. Many folks work for a lot less.....Just my humble opinion and I'm sure that many will not agree, but thats ok too. One thing that we still possess and thats freedom of speech, as long as its not slanderous or puts down any particular person that could cause harm.

  • TheFungoKnows

    Just go to a flat state income tax. Every employee is paid up with each payroll deduction. No need to file tax returns (for most employees), no need to print out tens of thousands of tax booklets, no need for some 300+ Tax and Revenue Dept. employees to go over tax returns.
    This could save the State $150 million every year.
    Common sense, the main ingredient that is lacking within the WV Legislature.

    • stophating

      Excellent plan, if you happen to be in the 5% of income, but if you are in the bottom 95% it is a very regressive tax that would take for the poorest and probably increase those receiving some type of public assistance.

      • Interesting123

        Everything over 60K is taxed at 6.5%. There is a lot more than 5% in the 6.5% bracket.

  • stophating

    Maybe it's time to re-implement the corporate taxes that were cut in promise of jobs that never came. Take away the corporate welfare and you'll have about 400 million more to work with, but I'm sure that the legislature will add the food tax back, rather than tax wealthy corporations.

    • Gilbert Gnarley

      Good post but don't worry, stophating. Rest assured there will be political ideologues who see the solution as being the cutting of taxes even further (such as so-called "equipment taxes") without responsibly making up the shortfall elsewhere.

      Guess when it comes to development, the gas industry hasn't proven to be all it's "cracked" up to be.

      Tea, anyone?

  • Chef Camille

    Gee try working within your means.