Thanks to Democratic President Obama's war on coal, the oil glut, and a bloated state bureaucracy that includes too many relatives of Democratic politicians, the state of West Virginia has an $800+ million hole in its budget.
More taxes are not the answer. Spending cuts are. Here is how it is done.
First an across-the-board cut of 10 percent in the general fund would generate half the money needed. The lone exception would be the prison system because it truly is underfunded. Not many relatives of Democratic politicians wanted jobs there.
Yes, the education budget can be cut by eliminating nursery school (pre-K) and half the staff at the Department of Education. Spending per student is above the national average while the average income in the state is 22 percent below the national average.
Yes, the State Police can be cut. If that means laying off civilians and no new cruisers this year, so be it. Things are tough all over.
Yes, this will not be pleasant. Raising taxes on the populace are uglier. West Virginia is 49th in income, and is 14th in state taxes. Are you kidding me? Fourteenth.
The other half can be done by dipping into "special" accounts. The state actually spends $12 billion a year, or almost three times the general fund. Reducing Medicaid to its minimum will secure $100 million alone. Of course the medical lobby will protest that this is actually a $300 million cut as we will lose federal matching funds. Too bad. We are in trouble. A few $300,000-a-year hospital bureaucrats will have to move to find work in another state. We gave the medical industry malpractice protection a few years ago. It is their turn to pay.
Also end retirement credits for all state elected officials beginning with their next term, which begins in January. Only judges -- who have a separate judicial pension fund -- should get pensions.
Also end health benefits for lawmakers, and cut the legislative pay by 10 percent beginning with the next Legislature. This will not save a lot of money but it will show Republicans are willing to sacrifice.
In 82 years of a Democratic Legislature, state government grew and the economy didn't. Raising taxes is not the answer. Cutting back is.