Lawmakers have indicated that they do not plan to cut into the $1.4 billion education budget despite a stagnant economy in West Virginia. However, some lawmakers have said that if the state's economy were to darken that they would rather cut into the education budget than to raise taxes.
The reality is that West Virginia's economy is projected to grow by 1 percent, while the rest of the nation is estimated to grow at a 5.5 percent pace. With a projected growth rate of only 1 percent, the education budget is coming under close scrutiny.
We agree that the education budget should be closely scrutinized. When it consumes more than half of the state's $2.7 billion budget, lawmakers, as well as taxpayers, should be assured that the money is being spent wisely.
Cutting money from the education budget should be the last measure that the lawmakers should take but they must also be certain that there is no unnecessary spending within the $1.4 billion dollar budget.
A solid education system is the only way that we are going to be able to propel West Virginia's economic growth to at least the national average. But until our economic growth reaches that point, we must be certain that each dollar that is contained within the states budget is spent in the most cost-effective manner.
With the education budget being the largest segment of the state's budget, it is going to be the first area that is looked at when cuts have to be made.