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Editorial: Wasteful – Lawmakers, Justice must get budget right

From the Parkersburg News and Sentinel:

Last week, Gov. Jim Justice brought lawmakers back to Charleston for a special session that started not with a bang, but with confusion and a lot of standing around. As state Sen. Donna Boley, R-Pleasants, put it “(Thursday) was a complete waste.”

Amid complaints the governor was simply not ready for the special session he called; and frustration that every wasted day was costing taxpayers $35,000, Justice’s plan became clear: Force the House of Delegates into an extreme sense of urgency; make it seem as though any cost to taxpayers as they do their work is their fault, not his; hope West Virginians are gullible enough to ignore the incredibly irresponsible game he is playing.

House members who were ignored when they tried to negotiate with the governor — when they were NOT on the taxpayers’ dime — should not give in to the pressure he is exerting now.

“We’ve wanted to talk about these items over the last couple of weeks, but the governor shut the door in our faces,” said House Finance Committee Chairman Eric Nelson, R-Kanahwa. “Now he’s called us back into session, and we learn there are still issues to work out. This is a colossal waste of time and taxpayer money.”

Certainly, House leadership must not take a fully obstructionist stance, either. In fact, Speaker of the House Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, would very much like to “take a break, get House and Senate leadership and the governor in a room and listen to each other. Then maybe we can find the middle ground.” Communication and an end to the game-playing are key.

Lawmakers –on both sides of the aisle AND in both houses of the Legislature — must be involved in discussions with each other and with the governor. They must take enough time to get this budget right for West Virginians; not right for Justice.

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