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Fitch Ratings: Responsible budget cuts send right signal

West Virginia officials — and taxpayers — got good news last week when Fitch Ratings announced it is continuing its “AA” rating of state finances. That is desirable because ratings such as Fitch’s are used to determine interest rates on bonds sold by the state.

Fitch rates the state’s economy as “stable” in part because of the responsible way in which legislators and governors have handled budget matters during the past few years.

But with revenue to cover the state budget still lagging $20 million behind what had been expected for this time of the year, state officials are under pressure. Keeping the budget in balance may require spending cuts. Bureaucrats and special interests should be made to understand now the belt is going to be tightened — as there is still plenty of waste that could be cut. Necessary programs should not suffer because some in Charleston STILL refuse to rightsize and be better stewards of taxpayer dollars.

If the governor is already signalling 5 percent cuts may be necessary, the search should begin immediately. Once fat is found, it should be trimmed without delay. That would signal to Fitch and other rating agencies that state officials are serious about spending only within our means, potentially saving taxpayers millions of dollars in the long run.

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