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Editorial: What about our budgets?

From The Intelligencer of Wheeling:

Gov. Jim Justice offered West Virginians a choice during his State of the State speech on Wednesday. Increase taxes by about $600 million … or else.Or else what? “Are you willing to eliminate all of our state parks? Are you willing to eliminate all of your colleges and universities other than Marshall and WVU? Shut them down? … Are you really, truly, willing to gut your seniors? Are you willing to turn our backs on our vets?”

That was Justice’s warning to anyone daring to suggest state government can get by with less of our money.

Too often in the past, Mountain State residents have swallowed it hook, line and sinker.

We never seem to ask the pertinent questions:

Who says it has to be that way? Why do we base decisions of how much money state agencies need on what they tell us is required? Has anyone ever bothered to determine what really would happen if a given amount of state spending was cut?

Justice’s solution to a balanced budget is about $450 million in tax increases for the general fund and another $150 million for the State Road Fund. And by the way, he would take $123 million out of the emergency Rainy Day Fund.

What about state spending? You may want to do what Justice did Wednesday night. Sit down for this:

Justice’s proposal for the general revenue and state lottery funds is for a total of $4.894 billion in spending during fiscal 2018, which begins July 1. That is $376 million more than was spent from those funds in FY 2016.

Every dollar paid in taxes is a dollar that cannot be used to put food on a family’s table, pay the children’s dental bills, add to the college fund or buy a more fuel-efficient car that doesn’t break down frequently.

Every dollar taken from businesses is a dollar they cannot pay out in wages, use to hold down prices — or to keep as many people as they would like on the payroll. Every dollar that goes to an allegedly critical government program is a dollar not used to expand a small business and hire more people.

We have the lowest workforce participation rate in the nation.

Personal income growth here was at the second-worst rate in the nation during the third quarter of last year.

Per capita income here is the second-worst in the United States.

Our 17.9-percent poverty rate is far above the U.S. average of 13.5 percent.

Businesses are struggling, to judge by economic activity reflected in collections of three key taxes from them. At this point in the fiscal year, the total is about $822 million — down severely from the $880 million at the same point last year.

The tax-and-spend argument amounts to this: If West Virginians don’t let our government take more money from us, the sky over Charleston will fallnSome might say it already has fallen on many Mountain State families and businesses.


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