CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Leaders of several state agencies reported positive financial news to a group of state lawmakers Monday at the state capitol.
Members of the Joint Committee on Government and Finance, which is made up of leading lawmakers, learned of a $65 million surplus in PEIA because claims are down, a projected balance of $166 million in the state Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund, the highest balance of that fund since 2009 along with state revenue collections that are closer to estimates than in recent years.
Senate President Mitch Carmichael said it was good news worth pointing out.
“I think we ought to take a moment here and recognize that we’re on the upswing and things are going well,” Carmichael said.
There was a bit of negative financial news and that came in the area of the state’s investments.
“February was a bad month for all assets–bonds and stocks,” state Investment Management Board Executive Director Craig Slaughter said.
The state’s retirement funds have to grow by 7.5 percent a year on Wall Street or the legislature will be faced in putting more into the plans. Slaughter said the year-to-date growth was at 8.9 percent at the end of February.
“I think it’s entirely reasonably likely that we’ll hit the 7.5 percent rate at the end of the (fiscal) year,” Slaughter told lawmakers.
He said the economy is “great” but there a lot of political things that have affected the markets.
“You just don’t know. We’re in the late part of an economic cycle and it’s a tricky period and there’s a lot of volatility involved,” Slaughter said.
February investments were down 2.1 percent and Slaughter expects March to have lost another half percent.
“It’s been a long bull market and people are getting nervous and trying to anticipate the next downturn, not knowing when it happen, we just know it will happen at some point,” Slaughter said.