Bureaucracy: Eliminate bloat to fix pay, PEIA mess

Gov. Jim Justice and West Virginia lawmakers spent a lot of time — on the campaign trail and before the start of the legislative session — pounding their fists in outrage at our great state being ranked 50th on so many national lists. “I’m just sick and tired of being dead last,” the governor has been known to mention.

But frustrated public school employees have resorted to an illegal strike, leaving their posts for at least two days to drive home the point that their pay ranks at nearly the bottom when compared with those in other states. Such a work stoppage is damaging to nearly everyone involved, particularly students and their families. But it is not difficult to understand why teachers and other public employees felt as though they needed to do it.

Lawmakers who continue to refuse to tighten state bureaucrat’s belts now are able to do no better than funding a three-year, 4-percent pay increase; and the Public Employees Insurance Agency is being bailed out for 17 months by a freeze paid for through the Rainy Day Fund. Perhaps legislators should ask teachers, service personnel, state police, and correctional officers for tips on reducing spending and making tough choices with their money. Virtually any Mountain State resident could come up with some ideas.

It takes only a cursory glance through the budget to find waste, redundancy, and incredibly poor management of resources — for example, not even being certain how many taxpayer-funded state “fleet vehicles” there are, let alone trimming that number to only those necessary for carrying out the business of a government that serves West Virginians, rather than itself. That funneling of money to fuel the bloat in Charleston began long before the current legislature and administration, of course. It has been carried on in West Virginia for decades — the majority of which saw Democrats in power who were just as eager to keep taxpayer money from leaving the capital.

Mountain State politicians on both sides of the aisle have, for generations, been more worried about maintaining their own status quo and bowing to King Bureaucracy than spending taxpayer money responsibly. It has driven the professionals who educate our kids to an illegal strike in hopes of being heard. Voters are watching to see what our elected officials hold dearer.