Budget: Lawmakers must stay within their means

It should soon be known how well West Virginia’s state budget fared during the current fiscal year, which ended Sunday. It is likely Gov. Jim Justice will give another glowing report on revenue passing expectations.

Indeed, the news has been good for much of the year. At the end of May, 11 months into fiscal 2019, general revenue fund collections totaled $4.278 billion. That was more than $81 million in excess of projections on which the budget was based.

In fact, the money has flowed in so well that the fiscal 2019 budget was increased by about $210 million earlier this year, to a total of $4.65 billion.

Some sort of fiscal meltdown unreported to the public would have had to have occurred this month for fiscal 2019 to end without a “surplus” in the bank.

If there was additional cash left over at the end of the day Sunday, there are plenty of ways it can be used. Roads come to mind.

What about the new year, however? The fiscal 2020 general revenue budget calls for $4.635 billion in spending. That may not take into account legislative action such as the major school improvement bill enacted earlier this month.

A quick look at the numbers discloses, even though revenue has been excellent for much of this year, the budget may be tight during the upcoming 12 months. The bottom line is although state government seems to be raking in the cash, plans call for increased spending that may offset the boost. Justice and lawmakers will have to continue watching the nickels and dimes.

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