Senate President Jeff Kessler introduced his Future Fund legislation into the Senate Friday. The proposal this year, however, is slightly different from years past.
Senate Bill 461 creates the statutory framework for the fund:
-Provides 25 percent of any revenues collected from oil and gas severance taxes over and above $175 million be automatically placed in Future Fund, up from $70 million baseline proposed last year
-Principle will be held in Future Fund for six years before can be allocated for use, down from 20 years proposed last session
-Constitutional Amendment will be placed on the ballot (possibly as early as November of 2014) for voters to determine how funds can be spent
Kessler said while the Rainy Day accounts are used for budget shortfalls and natural disasters, he sees this fund as a way to save and invest in the state’s future.
“I look for the Future Fund more as a progress fund,” Kessler said Friday. “Things we can do and save the money so we can accomplish the big things we need to do in West Virginia.”
Kessler said he would like to see the fund be used toward improving state roads, raising teacher salaries and compensating for the state’s business and inventory tax to attract more industry to state.
“We’d love to do them all,” Kessler said. “We don’t have the money to do any of them.”
A bi-partisan group of 30 senators have signed on as cosponsors of the legislation. It is committed to the Senate Committee on Economic Development followed by Finance.