POLITICS

W.Va. Senate puts Future Fund growth on hold

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Politics,News,Business,West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The West Virginia Senate has approved House changes that place Future Fund growth on hold.

The bill will now skim 3 percent from all severance taxes on coal, oil, natural gas, minerals and timber for the Future Fund only when the state's rainy day fund is at least 13.5 percent of the general revenue. Until then funds are diverted to the rainy day fund.

Sen. Brooks McCabe explained that the state's rainy day fund is 3 percent of general revenue and a portion would be used to balance this year's budget.

As the bill stand, funds aren't expected to go into the Future Fund for at least two years.

Originally only 25 percent of oil and gas severance over $175 million would be used for the reserve fund.

Senate President Jeff Kessler, a Democrat from Marshall and the bill's sponsor, said the Senate version of the bill would have generated more revenue for the Future Fund more quickly. But he said the passage of this bill was still a huge step for West Virginia's future.

"We have been mineral rich here since we became a state yet we are still the poorest state in the union. We are going to break the cycle of poverty with resources we have," he said.

The fund is for future infrastructure projects such as road repair and teacher pay raises.

The bill now goes to the governor to sign.

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