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Editorial: Spending Cuts Governor’s Job

The Wheeling News-Register:

Midyear spending cuts have become common in state government.

 When lagging revenue required it, former Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin set a dollar amount of spending that had to be eliminated, then told state agency heads to do it.

He did not ask legislators to itemize spending cuts.

Now Tomblin’s successor, Gov. Jim Justice, is telling lawmakers he will go along with as much as $150 million in annual spending reductions. He wants them to tell him where to cut.

But legislators are not state government insiders. They do not run the vast bureaucracy on a day-to-day basis. They do not know where greater efficiencies can be achieved. They have little knowledge of how the government works.

There is a reason the budget-making process is required by law to begin with the governor. It is that he and his agency heads are the people who know all the things lawmakers do not.

Justice should order his agency heads to dig down beyond merely eliminating important services and programs and give him — and legislators — a plan to slash spending with as little pain as possible to West Virginians. Doing that is part of the governor’s job.

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