Responsible: Justice changes mind on cutting budget

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel editorial

On the campaign trail, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice made clear his belief that “we’ve cut about all that we can cut,” and “You will not be able to cut your way out of this (state budget) mess.”

Happily, it appears as though Justice, upon being presented with new information as he was briefed during the transition process, has changed his mind. He started this week with the governor’s office by getting rid of five cars that had been used by staff.

“We won’t be able to climb out of this ditch until we really dive into the books to find cuts and cost-saving measures,” Justice said. “State government owes it to every taxpayer to be as fiscally responsible as possible.”

Good for him.

Justice is now asking the rest of his administration to “explore ways to cut waste, no matter how small.”

This comes on the heels of an inauguration speech in which he laid bare the massive bureaucracy he plans to target, in our state’s education system.

“In 1980, we had 130 bureaucrats looking over 500,000 students,” Justice said. “Today, we have half as many students and ten times as many bureaucrats looking over them. How can it possibly be? How can it possibly work?”

It cannot. And it is high time someone in Charleston recognized that kind of bloat will cripple West Virginia no matter how many new sources of revenue they find.

Perhaps Justice’s newfound zeal will be contagious among members of his own party. Certainly State Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, is on board.

“These are changes we have been trying to achieve in the Legislature, but did not have the full support of the Governor’s office until now,” Carmichael said.

Justice must not give up on some of his ideas for bringing new revenue into state coffers as well. But early signs indicate he has learned we had not, in fact, cut all we could cut — not even close. It is encouraging to hope he is now willing to help tackle the budget crisis from all sides.

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