CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia Governor Jim Justice says the state’s net budget is still not great due to shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, however, he says the budget is looking better than originally expected, with collections for May reaching $33.7 million above the anticipated totals.
Earlier this year, Justice said his advisors anticipated a deficit of $500 million by the end of the fiscal year. When the state began to reopen as guidelines eased, Justice says West Virginia brought in better than expected revenue collections in the latter part of April and throughout May, picking up roughly $150 million.
The governor says cash also continued to come in, and he no longer believes the legislature will need to be called back to session or that the state will need to use the “rainy day fund.”
Justice says counties and cities in West Virginia will also be positively affected by changing guidelines and will be able to backfill from lost revenue during the pandemic.
At the end of March, the state was roughly $6 million short of its estimate, according to the governor. As the state shut down due to the pandemic, that number became $198 million in April and advisors began telling Justice to expect a $5 million shortfall by the end of the fiscal year.
As West Virginians have gone back to work, the May shortfall was significantly better than expected at $37.7 million, originally expected to be between $60 million to $70 million in shortfall. The state is now at a total of a $236.4 million shortfall and has not backfilled what guidelines are allowing. The governor says $200 million of that comes from shifting the income tax deadline to July 15.
The governor says the income wage and salary withholding tax collections for May were $18 million dollars above the reduced expectation, and sales tax collections were $14.5 million above that reduced expectation.