The West Virginia House of Delegates advanced a budget bill Tuesday that clears the way for the proposed personal income tax phase-out, State Police trooper pay raises and significant salary bumps for state employees working within the foster care system.
Lawmakers advanced Senate Bill 250 on a 93-2 vote, with Delegates Shannon Kimes, R-Wood, and Chris Pritt, R-Kanawha, voting against. Delegates Wayne Clark, R-Jefferson, Ed Evans, D-McDowell, John Hardy, R-Berkeley, Pat McGeehan, R-Hancock, and Larry Pack, R-Kanawha, were absent for the vote.
Republican lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected four amendments offered by Democrats. Delegate Lisa Zukoff, D-Marshall, called for allocating $2 million to increase funding for guardian ad litems, who represent foster children during court proceedings.
Delegate Kayla Young, D-Kanawha, offered two amendments. The first would have increased funding for child care within the Department of Health and Human Resources by $14.6 million. The second would have allocated $50,000 to ensure all House committee rooms had video broadcasting capabilities. The Senate currently has video and audio options, while the House has only audio.
Delegate Brent Boggs, D-Braxton, asked for a one-time $1,000 stipend for public employee retirees. Boggs said Democrats and Republicans have continued to ignore retirees’ concerns, no matter which party has been in the majority.
“Ask them if they feel forgotten,” he said. “They do.”
SB 250 will now return to the Senate, where senators only mildly tweaked the governor’s requested version. Senate Finance Chairman Eric Tarr, R-Putnam, still has not taken up the personal income tax phase-out or foster care pay raise bills.
The House version of the budget bill transfers $265 million in revenue to a stabilization fund that was created by the phase-out bill, and $96 million to pay for the first round of 10% personal income tax reductions.
It also adds $8.9 million to fund $10,000 base-rate salary increases for State Police troopers — a cost that senators and the governor did not include. The 15% pay increases for foster care employees will cost around $3 million, according to the House version.
Saturday is the final day of the 2022 legislative session.