Breaking News

Government, Latest News, Opinion

Editorial: Start planning for worst-case scenario

From The Dominion Post of Morgantown: 

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.”

Or in this instance, if the dragon is only six weeks away from potentially taking wing and torching your state government.

That quote above is from perhaps the world’s pre-eminent fantasy writer, but what we refer to here is looking like less and less of a fantasy: A potential state government shutdown.

This week, Gov. Jim Justice’s chief of staff instructed West Virginia’s cabinet secretaries to prepare contingency plans for such a shutdown.

Judging by the confusion, obstinancy of many and even the lack of a formal budget bill during the ongoing special session, that’s wise.

Though the current fiscal year ends June 30, as a practical matter the state needs a spending plan in hand by June 19 to ensure it’s implemented at the start of the next fiscal year, July 1.

The accounting and systems adjustments for the new budget year are essential to such a process.

The memo begins, “Out of an abundance of caution … ;” however, the idea of planning for how state departments would proceed in the event of a shutdown goes beyond caution. It’s critical.

What such contingency plans primarily do is identify essential and nonessential state services these departments coordinate. The plans are due by May 30.

Some agencies already have plans in place after the budget debacle in 2016 that edged the state toward a shutdown, before an agreement was reached in mid-June.

In a similar vein, Justice introduced a bill Monday that gives him authority to furlough some state employees if no budget passes by July 1.

That legislation, House Bill 106, is intended to protect state employees’ jobs and benefits in lieu of furloughs being required.

A similar bill was approved by the Senate in the regular session but died in the House.

For now, HB 106 is winding its way through the House’s committee process and looks to have some legs.

If this budget crisis is resolved in a timely manner, of course, these contingency plans and furloughs will be unnecessary.

Still, it’s becoming apparent that this may not be our state’s last budget crisis.

Some may think that this memo and this bill are just moves in a misguided game of brinksmanship. But that’s looking more like wishful thinking daily.

A template for these contingency plans was also to be made available to the secretaries this week.

Maybe such a template for resolving this budget crises — beyond both sides breathing fire — is more in order.

Comments are closed.

West Virginia Press Newspaper Network " "

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

And get our latest content in your inbox

Invalid email address