CHARLESTON — West Virginia lawmakers on Thursday approved spending a $250 million budget surplus on a wide array of initiatives across state agencies, from a fund to attract new businesses to more spending on tourism.
Lawmakers approved $30 million to create a closing fund aimed to entice more businesses to move into the state. Del. Vernon Criss, R-Wood, said the fund “could very well help close a deal” to bring companies by funding basic infrastructure upgrades such as sewer and water lines when needed.
“Some of our surrounding states (have) in excess of several hundred million-dollar funds. This at least gets us in the game,” said Del. Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson.
The Senate and House also approved $42 million for expansions of state parks and $5 million for the tourism office. Lawmakers also stored $50 million in the state’s rainy-day fund.
The Republican-controlled Legislature passed about a dozen measures on a mostly bipartisan basis in the second special session of the year.
The latest spending came as a result of a “tremendous” budget surplus, Republican Gov. Jim Justice said earlier this month.
Earlier in June, the Legislature met to pour federal funds and extra state cash into road repairs, health care and education programs such as school lunches. It also included about $902 million in federal funds received through President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan.
Much of those funds were grants directed by the federal government to be spent on programs such as substance abuse prevention and aid for needy families and for child care services.
Another $150 million from a state budget surplus was dedicated to funding some 700 miles of road paving and projects on 40 bridges across all 55 counties.
One new resolution that passed both chambers on Thursday called for the U.S. president to honor Hershel “Woody” Williams, the last living World War II veteran who received a Congressional Medal of Honor, upon his death with a state funeral.