Government Waste Remains Rampant

Lest West Virginians believe what they have been told about state government bloat being a thing of the past, a report from the Legislative Post-Audit Division reminds us little has truly changed.

In what is surely still just the tip of the iceberg in terms of bureaucratic coasting, division director Denny Rhodes told lawmakers last weekend that an initial review had found three Court of Claims employees were paid for a total of 64 days they did not work, or took off without submitting the proper leave time.

That cost taxpayers $6,833 in pay and $2,050 in benefits, a tiny drop in the bucket when it comes to the state budget as a whole. But how many more of those drops are there? Remember the Water Development Authority board member who had not attended a meeting in five years, yet collected nearly $60,000 for doing nothing? That same agency is being investigated for spending, for example, $1,700 to touch up furniture that was slightly dinged up during the agency’s move to a new building.

Most West Virginians can point to another example or two of wasteful, or downright irresponsible, spending by state government they have encountered in their own experiences. What if all those seemingly insignificant examples were added together and eliminated?

Too many who have been comfortable with the way things have always been done in state government are banking on that never happening. And, it is true, the resources to root out all that waste would be an expense, at least initially.

But the long term benefits of truly changing the way things are done by West Virginia’s government would far outweigh that early expenditure. That change starts with recognizing that it is still business as usual in Charleston and there is almost no sense of urgency to reverse it. Voters will have to demand better.