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The pandemic has created dependent states

Lest we believe even the most conservative among us has not become quietly dependent on the federal government, here in West Virginia, state Speaker of the House Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, gave an important reminder last week.

“Without us authorizing the use of those funds, the money will go back to the federal government, and a lot of those programs that the average West Virginian is used to seeing the government perform wouldn’t be possible,” he told another media outlet Oct. 11.

He was discussing the approximately 30 appropriations bills introduced during the ongoing special session, to funnel a large amount of federal money to state agencies. We are talking about $16 million to the Bureau of Senior Services and $3 million to the Department of Veterans Assistance and Veterans’ Home Fund, to name just a couple of the items.

In addition there is CARES Act money that must be doled out. Hanshaw and crew understand West Virginia hospitals might be dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic for years, and that federal money will be key in supporting that effort, too. They plan to hold on to the CARES Act money to cushion that blow.

In the grand scheme of state government the appropriations bills on their own might not seem like much — a couple hundred thousand here, three-quarters of a million there … but when you add them all up, it paints a picture of federal government dependence that, as Hanshaw correctly pointed out, “the average West Virginian is used to seeing.”

Once we’ve gotten used to that dependency, it is nearly impossible to go backward, and the folks in Washington, D.C., know it. It doesn’t take much to figure out, now that we’re hooked, how they will decide to pay for it.

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