House Democrats Criticize Speaker's Budget Conferee Appointments
Over the next two days, ten members of the legislature will participate in a conference committee looking to write a balanced budget for 2017 - the fiscal year that begins in July. But Democrats in the House of Delegates are criticizing the makeup of that committee.
House Speaker Tim Armstead appointed five delegates to represent the House on the budget conference committee – Finance Chair Eric Nelson, Vice Chair Eric Householder, Delegates Bill Anderson and Carol Miller, and one Democrat, Delegate David Perry.
Minority Leader Tim Miley criticized Armstead for the decision to appoint only one Democrat when proportionally he says the committee should have included two Democrats to represent the number of members from the party elected to the full House of Delegates.
Miley says he’s disappointed and disheartened by the decision.
“Number one; the Speaker didn’t have the courtesy of even putting the Minority Chair of Finance on the conferee committee, and number two; he didn’t put the number of Democrats that represent the proportionality of Democrats in the House of Delegates,” Miley said.
Miley says the Democrat who Speaker Armstead did appoint doesn’t have the experience that Finance Minority Chair Brent Boggs could bring to the conversation. But the Speaker has the power to appoint whomever he chooses to the conference committee.
Saturday evening, Armstead said he chose not to appoint Boggs because he voted against the budget bill approved earlier in the week in the House.
Miley was not just critical of who House leadership chose to appoint to the committee, but also of the work conferees will do over the next two days, calling it a “complete waste of time.”
“Governor Tomblin presented a budget with various pieces of legislation that would’ve provided both a balanced budget and revenue enhancement mechanisms and not using one time money," Miley explained, "This group chose to ignore those revenue enhancements, chose to use one-time money, and it took them 60 days to try to make that happen, and they still couldn’t make it happen.”
During the last 60 days, House Finance killed or tabled a number of bills that were aimed at helping to balance the budget – one involved increasing the tobacco tax, another dealt with a tax increase to help with maintenance of roads, and one looked at an increase in the sales tax.