West Virginia Forestry Lay Offs

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia’s Division of Forestry will lay off 37 workers to address a $1.7 million shortfall in the new budget year.

A news release Wednesday says lawmakers rejected legislation to fully fund the Division of Forestry, and the $1.7 million shortfall will spur layoffs of more than one-third of the agency’s workforce.

The affected employees work in fire protection, logging and timber management programs.

The reduction includes the elimination of 42 positions, five of which are vacant, one is a part-time employee and 36 are full-time. The layoffs will be determined by least seniority.

The release says the timber industry fought for a lower severance tax than Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin proposed this year.

It says lawmakers passed the lower tax and a budget shortfall followed, spurring the layoffs.