Gov. Cecil Underwood delivered three messages during his annual state of the state address this past week that we really like.
First, he again will go to the Democrat-dominated Legislature and ask for a 25 percent tax on the wholesale price of smokeless tobacco. That will raise $7 million in revenue and possibly be one more nail in the coffin of the tobacco industry. We're against smokeless tobacco and we're against cigarettes.
While banning cigarettes and other tobacco products probably won't work, taxing them into submission is a good idea. The proceeds can be used to support government and the resulting higher tobacco prices may make a few more people resolve to give up the habit.
We also liked the governor's consistency regarding gambling. He has always been against it. He once more told Legislators and the people of West Virginia that he is against gambling of any form in the state. We agree. We would love to see the Legislature run the video poker machines out of the state.
And, finally, the governor's proposed budget for state government reflects a modest 2.5 percent increase in spending over the prior year. That is accomplished by a continuing effort by the governor to trim unnecessary government.
The latest example is his proposal to eliminate three high-ranking state offices: The secretary of tax and revenue, the secretary of transportation and the commissioner of commerce. Their duties would be assigned to other state officials.
Gov. Underwood has made good on his promises during the past four years to reduce government while keeping the economic fires burning. The state is better off today than it was before Gov. Underwood took over. West Virginians will get a chance to thank him at the polls this fall.