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EDITORIAL: Tick-Tock: Time is running out for a reasonable budget

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel editorial

Unless a budget is in place by June 19, state and local governments in West Virginia will have to cope with serious problems. Though the fiscal year does not begin until July 1, it will take time to make arrangements for it.

So when legislators resume their special session on taxes and the budget Monday, the clock will be ticking very loudly.

Gov. Jim Justice and others who are insisting on substantially higher taxes for Mountain State residents and businesses likely cannot wait. Give in to us, they can tell anti-tax lawmakers, or be ready for the unfavorable reaction to a “government shutdown.”

It is true West Virginians may have to pay some higher taxes. It ought to be clear that unless the Division of Highways gets more money, our roads and bridges will continue to deteriorate.

But needs such as that argue against schemes to force other taxes up.

Most members of the House of Delegates seem to have that philosophy about taxes and the budget. Their idea is that too many Mountain State residents and businesses are struggling for lawmakers and the governor to increase taxes except where absolutely necessary. Too much of Justice’s $4.35 billion General Revenue Fund budget proposal is not in that category, the anti-tax forces believe.

But time for delegates, state senators and the governor to come to agreement is running very, very short. Every day that passes gives Justice a new opportunity to rail about a “government shutdown” if he does not get his way.

Clearly, a compromise of some sort will have to happen. That is the nature of politics.

But a big tax increase is no compromise. West Virginians cannot afford to allow ourselves and our legislators to fall victim to the claim that the choice is solely between that and a failure of government.

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