CHARLESTON, WV -- The Legislature got its first look at Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's proposed budget Thursday, and members of the Senate did not appear pleased that the state is poised to take nearly $84 million from the state's Rainy Day Fund.
Senate Finance Committee chairman Sen. Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, noted this isn't the first year budget officials are forecasting a shortfall and asking for cuts.
Tomblin has already enacted a hiring freeze and midyear budget cuts to ease a projected shortfall during the current budget year.
"You're projecting at the end of this year another $60 million short, so in the last two years you've been short about $150 million in estimates," Prezioso told State Budget Director Mark McKown. "So your track record doesn't look very good, I'd say. It is what it is. So now we're going in and looking at . . . how to balance this year's budget."
The state's Rainy Day Fund, which currently holds nearly $920 million, has never been tapped into to help with budget deficits. It has been used to fund cleanup efforts after floods and other natural disasters, but the money has always been replaced.
Prezioso questioned tapping into the fund, saying it should be left alone.
"There seems to be a pattern here," he said.
But McKown pointed out the recession has been tough and coal markets are declining.
"I would say that five or six years ago our Rainy Day Fund balance was much smaller than it is now," McKown said. "We socked money away. Hopefully we don't have to use it, but it's there."