April 12: The Journal on the state budget:
West Virginia’s state government budget crisis is so severe – estimated as high as $466 million at one point – that it is virtually certain sacrifice to resolve it will have to be widespread. Some taxes may have to go up. Some programs such as state aid to local schools and Promise Scholarships may have to be reduced.
But why are actions such as those always the first brought forth by state officials dealing with budget woes? Why are reducing the state bureaucracy or even eliminating less-popular services so often last on the cutting table, if there at all?
Reportedly, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and legislators, who have been discussing how to balance budgets for both this year and the next for several weeks, are making progress.
Among ideas being discussed are eliminating the Promise Scholarship program, closing some State Police detachments and reducing aid to schools by as much as 7 percent, according to published reports.
And yes, higher taxes, at least on tobacco products, are in the mix.
What the bureaucrats say about balancing the budget, in public at least, always seems to focus on cutting important services and increasing taxes. Why do they never seem to talk about ways to reduce government payrolls? Why is there never talk of finding non-critical state programs? Do they expect West Virginians to believe everything state government does is essential?
Once again this year, it appears taxpayers, not those we support in Charleston, will bear most of any sacrifices made to balance the budget.
That brings up a question Mountain State residents should ask ourselves: Why do we keep allowing this to happen?