Progress, not miracles, desired

An editorial from The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING, W.Va. — Rome was not built in a day, it has been said. West Virginia will not be rebuilt in one legislative session.

Republicans who will serve in the Legislature next year selected their leaders during caucuses last weekend. State Sen. William Cole, R-Mercer, will be president of the Senate. Delegate Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, will be speaker of the House of Delegates.

On Monday, GOP leaders from the Legislature, along with Republicans in our state’s congressional delegation, met at the state Capitol. Later, they talked with reporters.

As Sen.-elect Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., noted, the congressional delegation’s mission is clear – to block Environmental Protection Agency proposals that will devastate coal states such as ours and send electricity prices soaring for tens of millions of Americans. Clearly, Capito and Reps. David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Evan Jenkins are right to make that their focus.

But the outlook at the state level is more complex.

Cole and Armstead have said one plan is to reduce the tax on business equipment and inventories. That certainly would help many West Virginia job creators. It could encourage new businesses to locate here.

Education reform also has been suggested – and should be high on legislators’ agendas.

For the first time in the memories of nearly all West Virginians, Republicans will hold majorities in both the House and Senate in January. After decades of serving as the opposition, they now are in the driver’s seat.

That places something of a burden to perform on them. During their time in the minority, Republicans made many suggestions for improving the state’s economy. Cutting the equipment and inventory tax was among them.

But with the state’s budget in deep trouble, legislators’ ability to provide tax relief will be limited. No doubt fiscal concerns will prevent them from taking some steps they have proposed for years.

That will be frustrating for GOP lawmakers – and perhaps for voters who gave them majorities with high hopes for improvement in the economy.

It took time for West Virginia to sink into the economic pit we occupy. It will take time to climb out of it.

Voters do not expect miracles. They do want to see progress, however. Cole, Armstead and other legislators – both Democrat and Republican – should do all in their power to make that happen, beginning in January.

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