Courtesy photo

State Senate President Jeff Kessler (standing) watches Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed Future Fund bill into law.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Legislation creating the West Virginia Future Fund, a type of endowment fund for the years ahead drawing from a portion of present-day severance tax collections, will become law in June.

State officials said it could be 2019, though, before the first deposits are made into that account.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed SB 461 into law on Thursday at the State Capitol.

For several years, Senate President Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall, 2) introduced the proposal, which the Legislature approved this year, as a way to save some of the additional money the state is collecting through natural gas developments in the Marcellus shale.

Beginning on July 1 and annually after that, three percent of the state’s annual severance tax collections — those from coal, limestone, sandstone, natural gas, and oil — that would have gone into the general fund is, instead, set to be deposited into the Future Fund.

The final version of the legislation includes a list of limitations on when those deposits can be made.  For example, in years when the Rainy Day Fund is tapped to balance the budget or mid-year spending reductions and hiring freezes are implemented, no severance tax money will go into the Future Fund.

Once deposits are made, it will be 2020 before investment income from the account can be accessed.

That investment income is earmarked for education, workforce development, economic development, infrastructure or tax relief projects.

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Comments

  • Carmen

    Excellent comments. This is a pathetic and now outdated gubernatorial campaign platform.
    "Let's start a Christmas Club" when we can't afford our current living expenses.

    All of West Virginia should reflect Sick and Tired's comment.

    The electorate will oust the Democratic fools this year and the State will be relieved Self Serving Politicians like this Guy

  • Sick&Tired

    Kessler in my opinion biggest joke at state Capitol

  • Jephre

    If this fund is created from a portion of severance taxes, won't this create a shortage in the General Fund, which is already in a depleted status? How will this shortage be made up - tax increases?

  • TB

    The Government should not be in the business of "saving" tax dollars!

    • wvu999

      Sort of like the rainy day fund at nearly a billion dollars

      • The bookman

        Which further illustrates the purpose of the Rainy Day Fund. It is a financial instrument that secures a low bond rating for the state and on behalf of municipalities across the state. All the more reason to resist expenditures that require its use to balance the budget. It's not a savings account. It's a backstop that creates a ceiling on bond rates.

        Kessler's Future Fund is a slush fund much like the Budget Digest of old, only bigger!

  • Aaron

    We would be better off investing this money in infrastructure then a return to the days of legislatures buying votes with taxpayer dollars.

    • Pickle Barrel

      Which is what this will turn out to be. A bunch of political hacks throwing money into worthless projects promoted by their cronies which banks won't touch and parading around using it as re-election publicity.