The 2013 Regular Session of the West Virginia Legislature ended a few minutes past Midnight on Saturday night, and the Session on the Governor's state budget proposal is scheduled to be completed this week.
To that end, it's important to note that the ability of our state government to make ends meet will be affected more and more by what is going on in Washington, D.C..
While many Mountaineer citizens are unhappy with some forced cutbacks in services and frustrated with the lack of new and expanded programs, we also must be prepared to deal with what some are calling "the most predictable economic crisis in our history".
According to our "numbers crunchers" down here in the State Capitol, approximately four billion out of the eleven billion dollars in our state budget now is dependent on federal funding (over 36%).
However, the most recent report of the Government Accountability Office and the Comptroller General of the United States warns us that, "...comprehensive long-term fiscal projections show that- absent policy changes - the federal government continues to face an unsustainable fiscal path.".
What that means is, when necessary and painful budget changes inevitably are made in our federal government spending and programming, that also will mean that the already diminishing federal funding available to us here in West Virginia also will continue to decline, and not just by small amounts.
During this session of the West Virginia Legislature, we had to make some cuts in order to meet West Virginia state government's growing financial challenge, but that only took care of this year's coming budget.
What about the following years?
Just as we citizens have to prudently manage our personal family incomes, we also have an obligation to make sure that elected officials are wise stewards on behalf of all of us taxpayers and our families.
During this legislative session, I ruefully saw numerous groups and organizations persistently plead (and sometimes demand) more programs and services. Some even unabashedly asked for tax increases on all of us. Many, if not most, of them paint heart-rending scenarios if their proposals are un or under funded.
Obviously, a Mom and Dad should not gather together their children, announce to them that their family income has decreased, and tell them that, "We're going to have to let one of you go!".
And, so it also should not be with the State of West Virginia and our families.
Now is the time to hold all elected officials accountable for our stewardship, and not send us further down the road to higher taxes and more initiative destroying entitlement programs.
Instead, let's work together to liberate our Mountaineer economy and families.
We can and must do this.
For more information about what has happened in the West Virginia Legislature this year, visit www.legis.state.wv.us, and also check out the other entries at this website for my legislative commentaries.