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Tomblin Offers Health Premium Deal for Budget

Perry Bennett
West Virginia Legislative Photography
House Finance Chair Eric Nelson speaks with Del. Steve Westfall on the House floor Sunday.

Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has a proposal to offset health premium increases for state employees, retirees and teachers.

Tomblin said Sunday he'd introduce legislation with $15 million extra for Public Employee Insurance Agency beneficiaries if the GOP-led Legislature passes his tobacco tax increase.

Tomblin said it would reduce anticipated 2017 budget-year premium increases from 12 percent to 6 percent, and reduce possible 2018 increases.

The House will cast a Monday or Tuesday tobacco tax vote. The chamber previously killed a smaller tobacco hike.

A 65-cent per-pack increase on cigarettes and increases on e-cigarettes and other tobacco products would produce $100 million toward covering a $270 million gap. Senators already passed it.

Sunday's 15th day of extra budget work puts the running tab at $525,000.

Without a budget, the government will shut down July 1.

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