CAPITOL BEAT: Budget update includes hundreds of millions in additional funding for corrections

Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 12:19 PM EST
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CHARLETON, W.Va. (WVVA) - Lawmakers have reached an agreement on the budget.

Last week, WVVA News reported on a deal reached by the House, Senate, and Governor that includes a 15 percent reduction to the personal income tax, a 100 percent rebate on the personal vehicle tax, and a 50 percent reduction in inventory taxes for small businesses.

But there is more -- state employees will also have a $2,300 pay raise as part of the deal and corrections will receive hundreds of millions in additional funding.

According to Senator Rollan Roberts, (R) Raleigh County, the deal struck includes the full amount to address deferred maintenance at the state’s jails and prisons, $200 million, but up to $350 million when federal drawdown funds are included. In the Governor’s original budget request, he asked for $29 million to address deferred maintenance in the state’s jails and prisons.

“We can draw down federal funding and then see how much is left after the federal funding comes down. We’ve agreed to completely take care of the deferred maintenance for corrections and that’s huge,” said Sen. Roberts.

WVVA’s reporting on the issue last year uncovered critical staffing shortages and dangerously dilapidated conditions at Southern Regional Jail. In testimony earlier in the session, then-acting Commissioner Brad Douglas said $60 million alone was needed to address broken locks at their facilities.

Heading into the final days of the session, there also appears to be bi-partisan support for a $10,000 raise for correctional officers, on top of new hiring and retention bonuses.

While lawmakers had to regularly go into special session several years ago to finish the budget, this year, Sen. Roberts said they are ahead of schedule.

“For many years, they went beyond the regular session to get the budget worked out.”

The final day of the legislative session is Saturday, March 11.