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Howard's Commentary - Leadership is Expected to LEAD

We now have an outline of the WV GOP leadership budget—and it is as expected.

"Cut and cower" until some magic event makes everything right.

Public ed, higher ed, DHHR among those to get hit. No pay raises for teachers (or other public employees). Here's Metronews reporter Brad McElhinny's summary:

There were some specific areas where they intend to cut, decline to spend or otherwise save money. The list appears to be based on the budget the governor proposed in his State of the State address:

  • Elimination of the proposed "Save Our State" Fund
  • Declining to spend $105.5 million. Continue 2-percent mid-year cuts implemented by former Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin; saving $21.9 million
  • Not including Gov. Justice's proposed 2-percent teacher pay increase; saving $21 million
  • Eliminating greyhound subsidies; saving $15 million
  • End the casino modernization subsidy; saving $9 million
  • Foregoing Gov. Justice's $5.6 million tourism advertising increase
  • Redirecting a $38.3 million transfer for the Workers' Compensation Fund
  • Redirecting a $30.9 million General Revenue/Lottery Surplus transfer
  • Foregoing a General Revenue transfer to the Division of Highways; saving $11.7 million
  • Accepting a $2.8 million increase to the beer barrel tax (from $5.50 to $8)
  • Recognizing a wholesale liquor increase from 28 percent to 32 percent (does not require legislation)

Senate President Mitch Carmichael said it is simply "living within our means" and wonders why that's considered news.

The answer, Mr. President, is that we expect leadership to….well…LEAD. To move us out and beyond the mess we are in.

Where is the vision in this proposal? How does it make WV and its citizens better off next year--or the next 5 years--than we are now?

"Balancing the budget" is just arithmetic. Cut enough and get to balance. But if it leaves WV in a worse position than we are now, it's bad arithmetic.

Cuts are not accomplishments.

The goal should be not just to "balance the budget" but to grow the state. If we are ever going to be anywhere but last in every ranking, we need to have vision.

We need to take bold steps.

Governor Justice's budget does that. Offers a plan to improve our roads that creates immediate jobs, that (literally) paves the way for increased business activity and tourism. That has a vision for a BETTER West Virginia. Not just the status quo.