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Editorial: Legislators losing time to craft state budget

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel editorial

Not much has been heard for a while regarding negotiations on a state budget for the coming year. Rest assured that is only a sign most involved are playing their cards close to the vest.

Talks among legislators and Gov. Jim Justice and his staff are proceeding. The fact Justice has not held another press conference featuring a platter of manure could be taken as an indication he thinks progress is being made.

Unfortunately, progress in the governor’s mind means higher taxes for Mountain State residents and businesses. The last detailed budget proposal Justice made called for about $244 million a year in higher taxes and fees.

Complicating the situation are the three, perhaps four, factions within the Legislature. One is Republicans who dominate the state Senate. Another is GOP members who control the House of Delegates. A third is Democrat lawmakers who, though in a minority, want and have a right to be heard. Finally, the Liberty Caucus within the House — staunchly anti-tax Republicans — has enough members to be influential.

With time to agree on a new budget growing shorter — the fiscal year begins July 1 — pressure to come to agreement is increasing. That plays into the governor’s hands because of his veto power.

Conservative legislators should not let that pressure divert them from what everyone in Charleston ought to view as a basic responsibility — to operate the least expensive government possible, leaving the most money they can in the pockets of West Virginians.

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