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Tighten Belts in Charleston, Too

By Staff | May 2, 2017

Legislators who will gather in Charleston Thursday to resume work on a state budget should not allow themselves to be stampeded by Gov. Jim Justice into a spending plan West Virginians cannot afford.

They should heed his opinion on taking more out of Mountain State residents’ pockets, however. At least, they ought to keep his pronouncement a few days ago in mind.

On April 24, Division of Natural Resources officials announced they would charge entrance fees to one state forest and six state parks. The idea was to raise money for maintenance at the facilities by charging $2 for every vehicle entering them. A $12 annual pass for all the affected parks was to be offered.

Within days, Justice vetoed the proposal. “There is no way I can go along with charging a fee to enjoy our state parks,” he said.

Apparently, the governor believes Mountain State residents cannot afford $12 a year to visit state parks.

That is the part of Justice’s recent behavior that legislators should take as their cue: State fees and taxes need to be held to the absolute minimum.

Of course, the governor has a different view on taxes in general. He wants lawmakers to approve a budget that rests on about $133 a year in higher taxes for each and every West Virginian.

So we can’t afford a $12 pass to the parks, but we can afford $133 per person in higher taxes? It makes no sense.

Many legislators seem to believe some new taxes are a must. But as Delegate Roger Romine, R-Tyler, has noted, that has to be coupled with cuts in state spending and more efficiencies at state agencies.

Many area residents are struggling just to get by. Tyler and Wetzel counties have among the highest unemployment rates in the state, at 7.8 and 8.3 percent, respectively. We’re having to tighten our belts. State government needs to do the same.