A roundup of West Virginia Media

June 21, 2022, Parkersburg News and Sentinel.

Editorial: Budgets: It’s crucial to have accurate, fair figures

Legislators are right to wonder how things got so out of whack since Charleston is constantly bragging about its financial accomplishments, including roughly $1.2 billion in excess tax collections.

Dave Hardy, Cabinet Secretary for Revenue, spoke about the peculiar circumstances during last week’s interim meeting of the Joint Committee on Finance of the West Virginia Legislature.

No one could have predicted this two years ago, he claimed.

Maybe. Regardless of whether it was anticipated or how much adjusting was done, politicians must decide what to do about it.

According to Delegate Larry Rowe, D-Kanawha, “all the governors since the (Modern Budget Amendment) was passed (in 1968) have done that.” I recall that Governor (Arch) Moore was very skilled at manipulating the figures.

In state or federal politics, tinkering is a common practice to achieve administrative objectives. But those attempting to construct a fair budget may run into issues as a result.

The disconnect between the two parties is so troublesome that lawmakers are putting forth ideas like Eric Householder, R-Berkeley, the chairman of the House Finance Committee, who wants to involve the Legislature much earlier in the budgeting process, and Rowe’s proposal that the Governor’s Office submit revenue budgets with a 20 percent accuracy.

The legislature sets and creates its own budget in many states, according to Householder. “The amount of money that we receive as revenue each year is limited. These limited sums of money are known to us. What are the state’s fiscal priorities, then, should we as the Legislature sit down and discuss? What are we prepared to spend cash on? When your priorities are established, you can determine how much money you have to spend on each of these areas.

Are you shocked to find that hasn’t already occurred? When it comes to budgeting in the Mountain State, the governor is given the power to both draft and present a budget as well as anticipate future revenue. What a win for the governor today if, for instance, those improbable tax revenue surpluses result in tax reductions that his administration can claim credit for.

The fact that lawmakers are trying to avoid shocks is understandable. Implementing procedures that result in the most accurate revenue forecasts and fairest budgets is certain to encounter little resistance.

June 22, 2022, The Intelligencer

Editorial: Giving West Virginians Hope

In West Virginia, a vicious cycle of hopelessness, addiction, and jail has developed as the state’s unemployment rate rises and the challenges people seeking to start over encounter are more difficult than ever. Fortunately, it seems that some public figures are starting to see the connection between the two and realize they must stop the cycle.

According to Jacob Green, director of the West Virginia Department of Education’s Schools of Diversion and Transition, “When they step out of prison, they have 851 potential roadblocks they have to get to simply because they have a criminal record.” The list goes on and on as to how that can affect one’s ability to obtain job, housing, and transportation.

The endeavor to assist those people in re-entering society and becoming productive citizens has had a difficult time keeping up as the number of people behind bars has substantially increased in recent years. However, both WVSDT and the Adult Education branch of the Department of Education are making an effort.

Mendy Marshall, director of the adult education office, said, “It’s a service that we provide to individuals who maybe lack their high school equivalency, maybe they had to drop out of school, or they need skills to enter the workforce, or even transfer to post-secondary education and training.”

As we battle the twin demons of economic hardship and an increasing number of people attempting to emerge from their own personal darkness, such initiatives should be given as much help as possible. We must provide them the support they require to prevent falling backward once they have paid their debt to society or made the move into a life of recovery. They deserve it, and so does the rest of our state.

June 22, 2022, Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

The West Virginian gas tax holiday is currently dead.

Governor Jim Justice has reaffirmed the West Virginia Republican Party’s steadfast opposition to the planned gas tax holiday.

Justice reiterated last week during a pandemic briefing that Republican lawmakers were hostile to the idea of a gas tax holiday. Additionally, he reiterated that he was against calling a special session of the legislature to discuss a gas tax vacation or a temporary suspension of the state’s gas tax.

Regarding the Republican supermajority that rules the House and Senate, Justice remarked, “The Legislature said no way. “The problem is resolved. Sincerely, I’m not about to convene a special session and squander (taxpayer) money on it. There isn’t a chance.

Democrats have advocated strongly for Justice to summon a special session of the legislature to discuss the gas tax vacation.

The state’s 35.7-cent per gallon state tax brings in nearly $35 million every month, which goes toward maintaining state roadways. Justice makes a compelling case for why the funds are required in order to fix roads and bridges.

Of course, anything that would temporarily suspend the gas tax or perhaps cut current gasoline prices is a hot topic of discussion. The drawback of such a move, meanwhile, would be the potential halting of regular road maintenance activities in the Mountain State if the gas tax revenue stream is interrupted.

Because of the legal issues surrounding highway bonds, state senator Chandler Swope added that the notion is “more complicated than it sounds.”

Given that Democrats’ support for green energy programs is one of many causes driving up the price of fuel, it is simple to claim that their call for a gas tax holiday is hypocritical. Some even blame President Joe Biden for the present problems motorists are having at the gas pump, pointing to Biden’s foolish decision to halt new oil and gas activity on federal lands after his decision to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline project on his first day in office.

Expect little progress towards a West Virginia gas tax holiday for the time being. Most of the current discussion is political theater.

A gas tax holiday does not appear to be an option, but Justice has stated that the door is still open to exploring other options to assist lessen the burden on citizens.