West Virginia

State Fiscal Briefs

April 2021

Looking for West Virginia data related to the pandemic? We have health, economic, and fiscal data on our new tool, How the COVID-19 Pandemic is Transforming State Budgets.

West Virginia’s budget basics

According to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), West Virginia’s total expenditures in fiscal year (FY) 2020 were $17.7 billion, including general funds, other state funds, bonds, and federal funds. NASBO reported that total expenditures across all states in FY 2020 were $2.3 trillion, ranging from $4.7 billion in Wyoming to $337.7 billion in California.

Each state allocates spending and taxes differently among different levels of governments, and local governments often administer programs with state funds, so combined state and local government data show a more complete picture of individual benefits and contributions when comparing states.

Per the US Census Bureau, West Virginia’s combined state and local direct general expenditures were $16.5 billion in FY 2018 (the most recent year census data were available), or $9,160 per capita. (Census data exclude “business-like” activities such as utilities and transfers between state and local governments.) National per capita direct general expenditures were $9,801.

West Virginia’s largest spending areas per capita were public welfare ($2,729) and elementary and secondary education ($1,664). The Census Bureau includes most Medicaid spending in public welfare but also allocates some of it to public hospitals. Per capita spending is useful for state comparisons but is an incomplete metric because it doesn’t provide any information about a state’s demographics, policy decisions, administrative procedures, or residents’ choices.

West Virginia’s combined state and local general revenues were $16.5 billion in FY 2018, or $9,151 per capita. National per capita general revenues were $10,071. West Virginia uses all major state and local taxes. After federal transfers, West Virginia’s largest sources of per capita revenue were charges ($1,504), such as state university tuition and highway tolls, and individual income taxes ($1,081).

West Virginia’s politics

Governor Jim Justice, a Republican, was elected in 2020 with 65 percent of the vote. The next gubernatorial election is in 2024.

Republicans control both the House of Delegates (76 Republicans to 24 Democrats) and Senate (23 Republicans to 11 Democrats), with veto-proof majorities in both houses. Control of the governor’s mansion and each house of the legislature gives Republicans a trifecta in West Virginia. All West Virginia House seats are on the ballot in 2022 because delegates serve two-year terms. Senators serve four-year terms; roughly half the senatorial seats are on the ballot in 2022, and the other half will be up for election in 2024.