Cut Waste, Don’t Increase Taxes

There they go again, talking in terms of a tax increase being the only way to provide more money to meet a pressing need in West Virginia.

Actually, there he goes again. “He” is Gov. Jim Justice, who tried unsuccessfully on Monday to convince striking school personnel to go back to work.

Justice held mass meetings in three cities — Wheeling, Martinsburg and Morgantown — on Monday, inviting school teachers and service personnel to discuss the work stoppage that began last Thursday morning.

“You need to be back in the classroom. The kids need to be back in the classroom,” the governor told teachers gathered Monday morning at Wheeling Park High School.

It didn’t work. By mid-afternoon, officials of the state’s two teachers’ unions had announced the strike would continue today. It was uncertain whether the service personnel organization walkout would continue.

During his stop in Wheeling, the governor attempted to hold out a carrot to the unions. He said he would be willing to call a special session of the Legislature to consider increasing severance taxes on natural gas and oil. The unions have pushed for such an increase to provide money for salary increases in excess of the 4 percent over three years already approved.

To his credit, Justice pointed out to the teachers and service personnel that lawmakers have shown no interest in higher severance taxes. Still, he held out the prospect of a special session on the matter.

Why not a special session on reducing waste and inefficiency in state government? Why not use that avenue to provide money for a better pay raise?

Why, when the state needs money, is the answer almost always higher taxes and/or fees?

Because the bureaucrats in Charleston have found that if they use the kicking and screaming approach to any attempt to make them more efficient and less wasteful, it will go away. Governors and legislators don’t want to annoy the bureaucrats.

Perhaps taxpayers — along with the many West Virginia parents upset their children have missed school because of the strike — should adopt the same strategy.