Balancing Act

It appears Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and West Virginia legislators have dodged another fiscal bullet – but not by much. The near-miss for the budget being considered for the upcoming fiscal year is evidenced by Tomblin’s proposals for keeping revenue and spending in balance.

Tomblin now is suggesting lawmakers allow use of interest earned by the state’s “Rainy Day” funds to finance the Medicaid program for the coming year.

That has never been done before.

The state actually has two separate Rainy Day funds, containing a total of $914 million held in reserve for emergencies. Interest earned by investments has varied widely, up to $30.4 million last year.

Governors and lawmakers have refused to tap the funds for anything but natural disasters during recent years. Keeping them intact has been wise, for several reasons.

Before agreeing to Tomblin’s proposal, legislators should search high and low for other sources of revenue or, perhaps, ways to cut spending.

It has become obvious that during the next few years, state officials will need all the help they can get to balance budgets.