W.Va. to seek input from legislative leaders on stimulus funds

Associated Press
Gov. Jim Justice

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said Monday he plans to reach out to leaders in the state Legislature to decide how to allocate the latest in federal stimulus funding.

Justice said his staff is working on a spending plan for $678 million from the America Rescue Plan. He said House and Senate input will be sought next week.

The funding represents half of what the state will receive to offset economic setbacks from the coronavirus pandemic. Because West Virginia's current unemployment rate is not significantly higher than its pre-pandemic level, the state will receive the rest of its nearly $1.4 billion allotment next year.

An additional $516 million is going to every county and some larger cities.

The money can be used by state and local governments for relief from the public health crisis. Under guidance the Treasury Department released along with the numbers, it also can be used to offset harm to workers, small businesses and affected industries, to invest in water, sewer and broadband systems and to replace lost public sector revenue. Essential workers also can qualify for premium pay under the program.

Officials cannot cut taxes, pay down debt or bolster the state's rainy day fund with the relief package.