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Editorial: Some W.Va. programs must get the ax

From The Journal of Martinsburg:

Hard choices will be needed to balance West Virginia’s budget for the coming year. Some legislators already have made one: They want to eliminate the Courtesy Patrol program.

It provides regular patrols of a few highways, primarily interstates, by personnel equipped to help motorists whose vehicles break down or who are involved in other emergencies. No doubt some stranded travelers are very happy to see Courtesy Patrol pickup trucks pull up behind them on the berm.

But the initiative costs $3 million a year and, in the past, questions have been raised about use of a private contractor to operate it.

Times have changed since the patrols were established years ago. More people carry cellphones, for one thing. It is easier for them to summon help from private-sector garages.

Another safeguard is law enforcement officers patrolling highways. One often sees them stopped to help motorists in distress.

Would it be nice to continue the program? Obviously. But it would be nice to retain several other budget items in jeopardy because of the state’s severe fiscal crunch, too.

Legislators behind a move to eliminate the patrols are right to see them as far less important than some other programs on the chopping block this year. Unfortunately, state officials need to view helping people with disabled vehicles as less important than addressing another breakdown — in the budget.

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