2017-02-15 / Opinions

Budget fixes must put citizens first

State lawmakers and many residents are uneasy with Governor Jim Justice’s proposal to fill a $600 million budget gap for West Virginia. Among the new governor’s ideas are multiple tax increases – from hiking DMV fees to raising the existing sales tax. A business tax is also part of the array of ideas for generating more money for the state.

Economists have been telling state officials for more than a decade (or two or three) that the state’s economy must be diversified – meaning that coal, natural gas and chemicals can’t be the only source of jobs or tax dollars. Other businesses and industries have to thrive for the state budget to be on stable ground.

Justice is right when he warns against slashing funding to all sectors of government in order to fix the budget. Lawmakers and the governor know that gutting infrastructure spending, human services and other basic functions will leave state residents poorer in the long term. Poorer health, less education, poorer roads, fewer protections for citizens add up to a poorer forecast in every way. It’s good news that lawmakers are hard at work trying to rid waste from the state in order to preserve services to citizens.

Republican legislative leaders have said the role of government is not to make jobs, but to create the conditions in which companies and individuals can thrive and create new opportunities. They must remember that healthy, educated, connected citizens are vital to future growth. They should not be neglected in favor of bureaucracy and special favors for business.

Reader submissions are encouraged

We’ve had a number of calls and letters the last two weeks expressing a belief that our newspaper’s February 1 article “Local protestors share stories from Women’s March” was inappropriate and an example of journalistic bias. Several readers have said we should have given the same space to the Right to Life March, also held in Washington, D.C.

The content of the February 1 article was provided by local residents who shared their impressions of a major international event. Throughout the publishing history of The Morgan Messenger, this paper has shared the stories of people touched by or part of a larger national story. We will continue to do that, with the help of our readers.

Readers are always encouraged to submit photos and information about their activities to our paper, and we will use that content, as space allows and local interest dictates.

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