CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The House of Delegates Finance Committee on Monday approved a bill to dedicate a portion of any future annual budget surplus dollars to the Public Employees Insurance Agency.
A bill that originated and was unanimously approved by the committee would dedicate 20 percent of any General Revenue surplus dollars at the end of each budget year to the PEIA Stability Fund, a fund created by the Legislature in 2016 that offsets possible increases in PEIA deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses.
“This bill demonstrates our continued commitment to finding a long-term solution to funding PEIA,” said House Finance Committee Chairman Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha. “Many people don’t realize that, despite our budget struggles over the past few years, West Virginia always ends the budget year with a General Revenue surplus thanks to our balanced budget amendment. This bill will require that the first 20 percent of that surplus be dedicated to the PEIA Stability Fund in order to better control and reduce health insurance costs for our teachers, state employees and retirees.”
Over the past eight years, West Virginia’s year-end surplus has ranged from a low of about $12 million up to nearly $339 million. The state ended this past fiscal year with a $76 million surplus. Under current law, 50 percent of any surplus dollars are required to be deposited in the state’s Rainy Day Fund, with the rest usually going to General Revenue appropriations.
Under the bill approved Monday, the first 20 percent of any surplus funds will go to the PEIA Stability Fund, which was established in 2016 to replenish PEIA reserves that had been spent down by the PEIA Finance Board during the early part of the decade. The remaining 80 percent of surplus funds will be split between the Rainy Day Fund and the General Revenue Fund for appropriation.
The bill calls for funds to be diverted to the Stability Fund until it reaches an annual level of $75 million, which would be enough to absorb annual estimated increases in medical inflation.
“This will help give us a dedicated, long-term funding source for PEIA, and is one more piece of the puzzle to provide our teachers and state employees the best pay and benefits package possible,” said House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha.