Necessary Cuts

Not everyone is happy about it, but Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin did the right thing with cuts to appropriations in the 2014-15 budget bill passed last week. The governor made 42 spending cuts totaling nearly $67 million – a necessary effort, even if it will mean difficulties for those who had hoped for better funding for grants and services this year.

While it would be nice to give everyone all the money they sought, Tomblin wisely injected a measure of financial prudence into the Legislature’s effort to spend above its means.

As it stands, there is still a significant figure to be pulled from the Rainy Day fund – approximately $100 million – for 2014-15. Next year could be even worse, and, in fact, officials are now realizing they may have to lean on that fund for considerably longer than they had hoped.

“We’re either going to have to look at enhancing revenues or we’ll have to get further into the Rainy Day fund, which would be disastrous,” said Senate Finance Chairman Roman Prezioso, D-Marion.

“Enhancing revenues,” is, of course, code for raising taxes, raising tolls, raising fees – taking more of your money so they can hand it back out again. The governor did well to try spending cuts first. Folks who might have benefited from the overspending on a few of those line items this year, might be far worse off if that spending means an increase in their taxes next year.

Tomblin was also correct in not signing off on significant expansion to health-care spending until the effects of Obamacare and the expansion of Medicaid income eligibility are understood. There is too much being mismanaged in Washington, D.C., right now for any state to truly be able to take informed action on the matter.

In explaining his vetoes, Tomblin said the reductions were “necessary to responsibly manage future-year budgets without raising taxes.”

Residents who have spent the past several years doing their best to responsibly plan their own budgets should be grateful.