A blog post circulating this week on RedState.com tries to deflect the failure of WV's legislature to produce a budget from its GOP leadership onto the backs of Democrats. And it is wildly disingenuous.
Governor Tomblin offered a balanced budget proposal at the start of the session, which included tax hikes on cigarettes among other things. It was a balanced budget as required. The GOP doesn't want to raise taxes--that's their right--so they claim that Tomblin failed because he wanted to raise revenue.
- Tomblin presented the Legislature a budget that could only be balanced by tax increases.
- The minorities in both chambers spent the last 60 days trying to thwart efforts by Republicans to present a balanced budget without tax increases. (RedState.com)
The fact the GOP leadership prefers more crippling cuts to the state budget doesn't negate the reality that Tomblin proposed a balanced budget.
The fact Democrats fought for their philosophical position doesn't negate the reality that Tomblin proposed a balanced budget.
The GOP is in complete control of both houses. They have the power to put forth--and assumedly pass--a balanced budget different from Tomblin's. The fact they don't, won't or can't belongs only one place: with Bill Cole, Tim Armstead and the GOP leadership team.
Unwilling to make tough decisions--or perhaps preferring to strangle state government with a lack of money to perform their basic functions, it's the GOP team that put the state in an untenable position. Calling for more cuts, they will need to hear the Governor's reality of how deep into the bone we may go as he explained to Hoppy Kercheval this week on Statewide Talkline.
How serious? For example, Tomblin has told legislative leaders that public education spending would have to be cut by four percent, or $63 million, resulting in the layoff of 800 school teachers and 500 service workers.
Higher ed would take an eight percent cut for another $28 million, which Tomblin says would result in the closure of schools or branches. Another $47.5 million could be culled from the Promise Scholarship program.
Tomblin made clear in an interview with me on Talkline Tuesday that he’s not proposing these cuts, but rather highlighting what areas would be hit if lawmakers want to fill the entire $270 million hole in next year’s budget with spending reductions. (WVMetronews.com Hoppy Commentary 3-30-16)
Government has work to do. It is not some Frankenstein monster created to keep politicians busy. The people of our state expect adequate and trained law enforcement; a robust system of education at all grade levels--to and through higher ed; a serious attack on the growing drug abuse problem with trained addition counsellors, adequate substance treatment centers, and targeted prevention programs; improved infrastructure; and the myriad other legitimate jobs of state government.
The budget has been cut 3 years in a row. Tomblin says $300 Million was trimmed in that time. The governor is not neglecting to deal realistically with the need for cuts, he has done them.
But the time has come to recognize we cannot cut our way to prosperity. It is past time to act like adults in the legislature and get our state government moving again.
(I ranted at length on this topic today on the radio. If you prefer to listen to what I had to say, settle in and push play).