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Routine Costs Taxpayers Millions
Lawmakers Fail To Pass Budget During Regular Session
June 12, 2012

C L I C K   T O   P L A Y
Keeping an eye on your tax dollars, that's what our Waste Watch segment is all about.

Tonight, we have some numbers you may not know about concerning special legislative sessions.

Every year, West Virginia lawmakers go into session for 60 days. But it has become routine to extend that period to work on the state's budget. That's cost you million of dollars over the past two decades.

One of the most important obligations of the West Virginia legislature is to pass a budget...so the government can continue functioning.

But for many years, lawmakers have failed to accomplish that feat during their regular session.

It's become normal practice to extend their time in Charleston with a special session to work on the budget.

Del. Tim Armstead/(R) Minority Leader: With the economy what it is now, people are working hard. They're struggling under the economy. We need to do everything we can to make sure that we never waste the taxpayers money.

Starting in 1995, state records show lawmakers spent seven extra days that year crafting a budget...at approximately 30-thousand dollars a day. Since then, there's been a special session every year to pass a budget.

The longest...10 days in 1999. The shortest, six days on three separate occasions.

It all adds up to 140 extra days over 18 years...at a cost of roughly 4.2 million dollars.

Del. Tim Armstead/(R) Minority Leader: A totally unnecessary expense that the people of West Virginia have to bear. And I certainly believe that we can get all of our work done, including the budget, in that 60 days. The early part of the session is so slow, so little is done during those early first few weeks I think we just need to prioritize and have better time management of the session.

The House's communications director says leaders have found it more efficient to do the budget after all other fiscal bills have passes. That lessens the need to return in special sessions later in the year to allocate more funds.

Legislative leaders also note that the number of special session extra days it takes to get a budget passed has gone down over the past few years.

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