In recent years West Virginia has had the foresight and discipline to make tough financial choices. Today, because of those decisions, West Virginia is in an enviable position. We also continue to remain mindful of the responsibilities we have to the wonderful people and families of our state. We must continue to work together to forge towards a more prosperous West Virginia, keeping on the path of fiscal responsibility.
Managing our state’s finances responsibly is a duty I take very seriously. Careful budgetary planning, with an eye on future budget requirements, will continue to be a fundamental part of West Virginia’s approach to maintaining balanced budgets, while providing necessary services to her citizens.
The budget I presented during my State of the State Address takes fiscally responsible actions to provide added stability for West Virginia’s citizens. It contains no new taxes and no tax increases. Instead, it provides nearly $80 million in tax relief through reductions in the sales tax on food, business franchise and corporate net income tax.
While we have made significant progress, there is more work to be done. By changing our mindset and our spending practices, West Virginia has established a firm fiscal foundation and become a beacon of strength in a nation where shortfalls have been the norm.
Tackling our state’s finances takes time, commitment and perseverance. Challenges are inevitable. As we face a future with exploding Medicaid expenses, declining lottery revenues and uncertain economic times we must again tighten our belts and work together.
One large outstanding obligation that must be addressed for the future of our state is OPEB or Other Post-Employment Benefits. Recently the PEIA Board of Directors made some very difficult choices that resulted in the OPEB liability being cut in half. As part of my proposed legislation, we will eliminate the remaining debt once and for all.
West Virginia has the ability to stand on its own financially and we are on our way to reaching the upper echelon of financial strength and stability. Recent business investments have demonstrated that West Virginia is a state where companies want to invest and create jobs. It is my hope that you will join with me as we roll up our sleeves, work together and continue on the course of fiscal responsibility for our people and our futures.