CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- With little change from the current budget -- either in increased revenues or new programs or pay raises -- House and Senate budget conferees completed work Wednesday on the 2013-14 budget bill in a comparatively quick three days.
That sets the stage for the Legislature on Friday to pass the budget plan, outlining how state agencies are to spend a total of $11.6 billion in state, federal, Road Fund and Lottery revenues.
Then, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is expected to call the Legislature into an afternoon-long special session, the key issue of which is expected to be legislation to provide tax credits needed to assure the reopening of the Century Aluminum plant in Jackson County.
Action on the bill, which would provide up to $40 million of state tax credits to offset electricity costs for the plant, is contingent on a vote Thursday evening by Century retirees to accept the company's offer to partially restore health benefits.
Tomblin spokeswoman Amy Shuler Goodwin said there may be additional bills taken up in special session, but nothing has been finalized.
"We are focused squarely on Century Aluminum right now," she said.
Senate Majority Leader John Unger, D-Berkeley, said he was advised there are two to three bills that Tomblin will have to veto because of technical errors that could be corrected and passed again in special session.
He said there have also been discussions on revisiting one or two bills that died at the end of the regular session Saturday, including a bill to require clearance from medical providers before high school athletes who have sustained concussions or other head injuries could return to sports practice or games.
During Wednesday's brief floor session, House Speaker Rick Thompson, D-Wayne, told delegates plans are to limit the special session to an agenda that can be completed Friday afternoon.
"It is our intention to complete our work on Friday and adjourn sine die," he said. "The only items we'd do are items we can complete in a brief special session."