Make fiscal future part of address
On Monday, just two days before delivering tonight’s State of the State speech, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced he will run for re-election in 2020.
“The further I go, the more I believe just this: I believe there’s work still to be done,” Justice explained on Monday.
He is right on the money, and we mean that literally as well as figuratively.
West Virginia government finances remain a cause for worry. We may be continuing to spend beyond our means.
It is true, as Justice points out, that income for the state’s general revenue fund continues to exceed projections on which the budget was based. Analysts expect us to end the current fiscal year with about $300 million in the bank.
But promises already have been made by Justice and legislators to spend about two-thirds of that amount on public employee pay raises and the Public Employees Insurance Agency. State law requires some of the surplus to be deposited into the emergency Rainy Day fund.
In other words, a $300 million surplus — even if finances continue that good in the future — is far from an insurance policy against fiscal woes.
Let us hope Justice discusses that during his State of the State speech tonight.