Medicaid costs are a key reason for the growth in spending, with the state's share of the state-managed health-care program for the poor, elderly and disabled projected to increase by $87 million, to $662.76 million.
Kiss stressed that the increase is not driven by Medicaid expansion for low-income families or by the Affordable Care Act but because the state has to fund a higher percentage of Medicaid costs under a federal formula based on the state's per-capita income.
"Because of improvements in our economy, we are required to foot a higher percentage of the Medicaid bill," Kiss said, noting that the state's share of Medicaid costs has gone from 20 percent to 30 percent.
Tomblin proposes transferring $83.83 million out of the Rainy Day reserve fund to help cover the Medicaid increase.
That would mark the first time the state has tapped into the fund to close a budget gap. (It has used Rainy Day funds in the past to pay costs for natural-disaster recovery efforts.)
Kiss said he is hopeful the transfer will not set a precedent for future administrations to raid the fund, which currently has a balance of $918.33 million.
"We believe the Legislature will work with us," he said. "It could be a slippery slope if we're not careful. We intend to be vigilant."
Kiss said that if the Legislature adopts the austere budget this year, projections for continuing improvement in the state economy point to long-term budget surpluses, beginning in 2017.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.