CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It’s going to take increased state spending and investment for West Virginia to turn around its flailing economy, state Sen. Jeff Kessler, a Democratic candidate for governor, said Thursday. And the money for that spending is going to have to come from higher taxes.
“You can’t cut your way to prosperity, and someone needs to raise the ugly T-word, which is taxes and revenue,” Kessler, the Senate minority leader, said. “There are two sides to everything, and I think we’ve cut all the fat we can trim.”
State funding for higher education is down nearly 30 percent over the past eight years, Kessler noted. And, for the first time in recent memory, the government will cut funding to K-12 education this year.
It’s been more than two years since Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways said the government would need $1 billion to repair and maintain the state’s roads. The only action the Legislature has taken toward funding that shortfall has been to require an audit of the Division of Highways, which will cost an estimated $500,000 and may or may not find any savings.
“Everyone knew what the answer was: You need money; you need taxes or tolls…