CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is considering a special legislative session later this week to deal with several bills that are needed to help the struggling state budget.
The governor met with leading lawmakers Monday evening to discuss the possibility after those bills failed to pass in the 60-day regular legislative session.
Two Senate bills, 344 and 345, proposed by the governor contained funds to help in the current state budget. They both failed to pass Saturday night. There will likely have to be a special session to deal with those measures but another bill, connected to next year’s budget, is more of a question mark for a special session.
Lawmakers didn’t approve HB4333 which would have fundamentally changed how some Excess Lottery proceeds are allocated. The Senate Finance Committee passed the plan that would have removed language from state code that mandates how that money is to be distributed and instead would leave the legislature in charge of annual allocation amounts to groups like thoroughbred and greyhound breeders.
The bill met a stiff challenge on the Senate floor from Jefferson County Senator Herb Snyder who basically kept the bill from being passed by filibustering during the final hour of the regular session Saturday night.
Statehouse observers said this should all make for an interesting week.
“With the failure of that administration bill, which has been referred to as the haircut bill, that leaves a 39-point-5 million dollar shortfall in the budget as presented by the governor,” West Virginia Racing Association president and longtime lobbyist John Cavacini said.
He added the actual budget hole after the legislative session is probably closer to $60 million.
Groups that get Excess Lottery money were pretty nervous in the final few days of the session when considering the money they get might be left up to the legislature for annual allocation decision. Cavacini said none of the groups can rest easy.
“I think probably everything is back on the table,” he said.
The governor could decide to hold a special session this week at the same time as the extended session currently underway for the budget or he could opt for another time before the new budget begins July 1. Former Gov. Joe Manchin held a budget session in May a few years ago.