PROJECTED FOR FISCAL YEAR 2020 IN WEST VIRGINIA, DESPITE EFFECTS OF
During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that he and state
revenue experts now expect another historic revenue surplus in West
Virginia when the books close on Fiscal Year 2020, despite the effects
that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the state’s economy.
The projected surplus comes in the face of long odds.
After setting the all-time state record for revenue growth in FY2019,
those surpluses were built into initial budget estimates for FY2020.
“So for us to have met the budget estimates for 2020, we would have
needed to have one heck of a good year,” Gov. Justice said Friday.
In March, revenue numbers were only slightly behind the record-setting
FY2019 numbers. But the pandemic hit soon after.
“Not only did the pandemic put our economy in jeopardy, but we also moved
the income tax filing deadline from April to July,” Gov. Justice said.
“We had a tremendous deficit at that point in time.
“My revenue people told me that we could probably forecast a $525
million-dollar deficit,” Gov. Justice continued. “It was really, really
difficult and we had to try to figure out what in the world to do.”
However, it was at this point that the Governor’s plan to guide West
Virginia through the pandemic began to bear fruit. While non-essential
businesses were closed, other aspects of the economy continued on.
With low case numbers paving the way for a swift recovery, businesses
began producing better-than-expected results.
Additionally, Gov. Justice worked alongside revenue experts to utilize
money from reserve accounts and the federal government’s move to raise
the reimbursement rate on Medicaid provided another boost.
“Lo and behold, we’re going to run across the finish line on June 30th
with a surplus,” Gov. Justice said. “It’s not going to be much – it’s
probably going to be less than $10 million – but we’re going to go across
the finish line with a surplus in a year that our experts predicted we
were going to be $525 million upside-down.”