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CURRENT STORIES


Balancing budget requires some tough decisions

It looks like it's really time for some hard decisions in Charleston.

Gov. Bob Wise has said he will probably order another round of spending cuts to plug a gaping hole in the budget that could reach $180 million.

Although the state's chief executive ordered several cuts last year, it looks like more austere measures will be needed to balance the budget.

Officials had earlier proposed selling some of the state's assets to help close the gap, and we think that is a capital idea.

However, trimming the bloated state bureaucracy is probably the best route to go. The governor claimed most of the growth was unavoidable because corrections, State Police and homeland security added positions, but we think there is fat that could be cut.

Gov. Wise said some agencies, possibly including his office, will be marked for job cuts. "All of us have to go back and revisit," he said.

Indeed. State law mandates that our government must have a balanced budget. Period.

The governor blamed some of the state's financial woes on the Legislature's failure to pass his proposal to reorganize state agencies.

Even House Speaker Bob Kiss, D- Raleigh, agreed that the Legislature deserved some blame because of its failure to axe some unnecessary programs.

Kiss is pretty well on target when he says that a combination of trimming agency work forces, capping new hires and slashing low-priority programs might be the best way to avoid a deficit.

But, like Senate Minority Leader Vic Sprouse, R-Kanawha, we think the increase in state employment is a "real wake-up call to the Legislature."

The Legislature and executive branch need to quit casting blame and start acting by paring the state government's payroll.

Patrick Martin