Make a Decision On Budget, Taxes
Most members of the West Virginia Legislature agreed it was time to call it quits — temporarily — and go home on Friday, May 5. Though they had spent less than two days in session to hash out a new state budget, they were right to leave Charleston when they did.
On the table at that point was just one proposal, presented by Gov. Jim Justice and the state Senate. When House of Delegates members did the right thing and rejected it, there really was nothing more to talk about. It would have been a waste of taxpayers’ money, at $35,000 per day of special session, to remain at the Capitol.
This week is different. Legislators are to go back for another special session on the budget Monday. This one follows a week of negotiations, reportedly involving the governor’s office and leaders in both the Senate and House. Presumably, some of the delegates’ concerns have been addressed, though there are reasons to believe Justice continues to insist on some budget-related demands unacceptable by a majority in the House.
But time is growing short. The new fiscal year begins July 1. State agency heads need to begin planning for it, and they need to know how much money they will have to spend.
That is a consideration among members of 55 county boards of education, too. Many already have had to make hiring and firing decisions based on state aid levels they hope will be included in a new budget.
So it is time to come to decisions on taxes and spending.
It is possible whatever tax proposal has been worked out during the past week will be rejected again. If that happens, all sides involved — and there are more than two –should be ready with alternatives they can offer as a basis for negotiations to begin immediately after it becomes apparent a new round of talks is needed.
If coming to an agreement takes all week, so be it. How much West Virginians will pay in taxes and how our money will be spent needs to be decided.