Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Report: W.Va. Reserve Fund a US Leader

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Report: W.Va. Reserve Fund a US Leader

Article excerpt

West Virginia is one of six states that have enough reserve funds to cover more than 100 days of general operating expenses, according to a new report on states' financial health. Released Tuesday, the Fiscal 50 report, published by the Pew Charitable Trusts, found that most states currently have smaller reserve funds - informally known as "Rainy Day funds - than they had in 2007, prior to the national economic recession.

In fiscal 2006-07, states had enough in reserve funds to run general government operations for a median of 41.3 days, but that number had shrunk to 31.06 days in fiscal 2014-15, the most current year for which data is available from the National Association of State Budget Officers.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who was instrumental in establishing the state's Rainy Day fund while serving as Senate Finance chairman in 1994, said the report shows the importance of maintaining a strong reserve fund.

"We have one of the strongest Rainy Day funds in the nation, something that has been badly needed in the aftermath of this summer's historic flooding, the governor said Tuesday. "Looking ahead, we need to continue moving away from using one-time monies to fill budget gaps and toward a budget that puts us on a strong footing for the long-term.

During the 2016 regular session and subsequent 17-day special session, Tomblin criticized attempts by legislative leaders to raid the Rainy Day funds to close revenue shortfalls in the 2016-17 budget.

He vetoed a proposed budget bill that would have taken $182 million in Rainy Day funds, before ultimately approving a 2016-17 budget bill that uses $70 million in reserve funds to close the gap.

Earlier this month, the Legislature approved an $85 million appropriations bill to cover the state's share of recovery costs from the June 23 floods, legislation that takes an additional $55 million from the Rainy Day funds. …

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