Justice says revenue numbers improving; $500 million revenue hole may not happen

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice says revenue collections in West Virginia are improving and it’s possible the once predicted $500 million revenue loss because of the pandemic will be much less.

Justice projected a more positive outlook during Friday’s coronavirus media briefing at the state capitol.

Gov. Jim Justice

“We’re looking at sales tax dollars that are coming in. We’re looking at all kinds of different things and literally the numbers just keep coming in better and better and better,” Justice said.

The state missed revenue estimates by $192 million in April after many businesses closed because of the stay-at-home order but Justice said it’s beginning to become evident now that a decision not to close everything is helping the state’s budget.

“We shutdown the things that we had to shutdown in West Virginia. But we really, for all practical purposes, never really shut the entire engine off in West Virginia,” Justice said.

Several large manufacturing plants remained open along with the coal mining industry. Justice said that $500 million prediction is now looking more like $350 million and he said $200 million of that comes from a decision to move the state income tax deadline from April 15 to July 15. Justice anticipates the $200 million will eventually be paid by taxpayers.

Justice allowed for large specialty retail stores and indoor malls to reopen this week.

“As we continue to reopen more we should start the see the numbers to get even better,” Justice said.

The state’s revenue collections for May will be released June 1.

Justice repeated Friday he remains confident the state will be able to use part of the $1.25 billion it received from the federal government through the CARES Act to backfill the state’s revenue losses.

Justice also mentioned Friday a change in guidelines for counties and cities that will allow them to be reimbursed through the CARES Act for things like emergency services costs during the pandemic.

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