Fresh Ideas: New revenue streams are vital to our future

In a few weeks, lawmakers will be tackling problems made even more challenging by the ever-shrinking revenue coming into state coffers. Among the suggestions for improving revenue intake have been some pretty out-of-the-box ideas — things like marketing our twisting, turning, scenic roads to motorcycle tourists or developing West Virginia’s own version of Dollywood.

It is tempting to hear such ideas and eye-rollingly toss them aside. We must not. It will be that kind of thinking that does us far more good than sticking with the way things have always been.

One recent example of a somewhat wacky idea that turned out to be a winner is the elk herd that has been brought to Logan County. When the animals finally arrived last month, Randy Kelley of the Department of Natural Resources said, “It’s like Christmas a week early for those of us who enjoy the outdoors,” and “We expect we’ll get a lot of visitors here as well, particularly in the fall when they’re bugling. It’s not something that people in the east are used to.”

Imagine that. A couple of dozen new animals on restored land in southern West Virginia, and there is a spark of hope.

It would be nice to think that while they are cutting spending and pursuing the big, traditional projects that could bring jobs and revenue to West Virginia, lawmakers are also imagining a few more like the elk herd, craft beer, or a new life for the Green Bank Observatory.

Who knows what what we can dream up?