The West Virginia legislature is expected today to authorize counties to issue recovery zone bonds next year. Legislators are also hoping to pass legislation to address the state’s unfunded pension liabilities.
Last week, Gov. Joe Manchin 3d called lawmakers to a special three-day session, which is expected to conclude with votes on up to 12 items today.
The bond legislation permits counties to issue recovery zone economic development bonds and recovery zone facility bonds.
West Virginia received $90 million for economic development bonds and $135 million for facility bonds in the federal stimulus law.
Counties have until Jan. 31, 2010, to apply for the economic development bonds that offer issuers a federal subsidy for 45% of interest costs for qualifying projects.
Applications for facility bonds, a type of private-activity bond, will be accept through Feb. 28.
Under the bill, the governor must submit final certification for the counties’ projects by July 31. Any portion of a county’s bond allocation that is not approved can be assumed by the state and allocated elsewhere.
Counties may sub-allocate appropriations to municipalities and other eligible issuers. The bill requires a closing on the recovery bonds by Aug. 31.
Lawmakers are also likely to vote today on a pension fix. Pension liabilities have burdened the otherwise fiscally healthy state. West Virginia’s seven pensions have $4.38 billion in underfunded liabilities, according to a national report on state pensions issued Tuesday by Loop Capital Markets LLC.
The legislature has rejected pension reforms two years in a row because the proposed legislation included taxes to pay down underfunded plans.
This year’s plan calls for newly hired police officers and firefighters to be covered by a different pension plan that offers less generous benefits.