CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When Congress reopened the federal government last Wednesday, it also restored the flow of federal dollars to state programs.
And it's a good thing.
Revenue Secretary Bob Kiss, speaking to lawmakers at an interim meeting on Monday morning, said West Virginia likely would have faced huge financial difficulties if the shutdown had continued much longer.
Kiss told legislators they should begin looking at legislation that would help the state deal with a prolonged government shutdown. He said while the state has many employees whose salaries are paid with federal money, there currently is no furlough statute in state law.
If West Virginia ever needed to lay off workers, it would essentially have to fire those people and re-hire them at a later date. Kiss said that could cause a host of problems with pension plans and seniority.
"Right now we're in uncharted waters," he said.
There is the possibility of another government shutdown in mid-January.
The deal brokered in Washington last week will only fund the government for a few months, meaning federal lawmakers only have a short time to come up with a budget and get it passed.
If budget talks fail like last time, the federal government could shut down again.
"This analysis we went through in the last several weeks might not be a wasted effort," Kiss said.
He said the only good thing about that scenario is the state Legislature will be in session by that point and could deal with funding issues, if need be.