CHARLESTON, W.Va. — For the first time in years, state agency heads are not having to start work on their proposed budgets for the next fiscal year — FY2016 — by taking a big chunk right off the top.

“We are not requesting an across-the-board 7.5 percent cut like we have over the last two years,” Charlie Lorensen, chief of staff for Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s Administration, said on Wednesday.

He admitted the state’s budget, though, is expected to again be tight when the new fiscal year begins next July. That’s why, Lorensen said, it will still be important for agencies to continue to find ways to operate more efficiently.

“We’re early on in that cycle. We have a lot of options on the table, but we are meeting regularly and pushing regularly to try to determine whether programs can be reduced, whether funding shifts can occur,” Lorensen said on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

A general state hiring freeze is still in effect. At the same time, some state employees who are retiring or resigning are not being replaced.

“Frankly, we really do appreciate state employees and the leadership of the agencies that have accommodated what is, in effect, a little bit more than a 15 percent cut over the last two years,” Lorensen said.

Safety net health care programs and education have largely been exempt from the past two years of budget cuts.

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  • Proud mtneer

    The doh gets hit with the same cut backs as all the other state agencies That means less staff, hours, equipment and materials. The cost of fuel, salt, asphalt and stone keeps going up and the budget keeps going down

  • The bookman

    And this year we have an extra ace in the hole. Since we have already set the precedent of raiding the rainy day fund to balance our budget, we can rest assured that tool is available and ready when the revenues fail to meet expenditures. No worries.

  • Voter

    Don't hold your breath senior citizen. You will be directed to a death panel soon. Government has to pay for all of the whipper snappers that don't want to work.

  • Teach

    The DOH should have money because the roads were not well maintained this past winter! These cut backs are forcing school closings across this state and it's wrong. We live in the mountain state, therefore we should be prepared to deal with lots of snow! No excuses! Buy more salt & cinders and repair those trucks!

  • John

    Good news! Maybe the senior citizens will stand a chance of having their operating budgets brought back up to where they should be, after the two year 7.5% cuts. Some West Virginia counties are on the edge of closing their doors on senior services.