West Virginia Looks to OK Taking $51.8m from Reserves for Budget Woes

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – The Republican-led Legislature looks to approve taking $51.8 million from reserves to avoid late payments amid a grim budget.

Tuesday’s House vote would send the measure to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who proposed it. Senators passed it unanimously.

West Virginia expects a $384 million 2016 budget gap. The Democratic governor’s office said if the bill doesn’t pass early this week, the state risks delays in paying some bills.

Delegates rejected a Democratic amendment Monday to move money to address $120 million in cuts to state employee and retiree health benefits next budget.

With bills due immediately, Republicans called the amendment political pandering.

Tomblin spokesman Chris Stadelman said it’s unnecessary to amend the bill for 2016 to assist 2017 benefits.

Tomblin has proposed increasing tobacco taxes to mitigate health plan cuts.