Plan for Long-Term Fiscal Woes in W.Va.
After insisting West Virginia government’s fiscal challenges were just a temporary thing, state officials finally seem to be facing up to reality. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s use of the line-item veto to pull $67 million in spending out of the Legislature’s budget is an excellent step toward planning prudently for a long-term lag in revenue.
Lawmakers had approved a budget that included $147.5 million out of the state’s Rainy Day emergency fund. Tomblin’s action reduces that to about $80 million, leaving much more in reserve for the future.
That is a good thing. Again, for some time state officials had maintained revenue would increase within the next couple of years. Now, the talk is of budget gaps in the range of $150 million to $170 during the next two to three years.
Tomblin’s action cut funds for some worthwhile programs. But such spending discipline will be critical if West Virginia is to get through the next several years without tax increases. At this time next year, Mountain State residents will be very glad the governor took the action he did last week.