3 Questions with Ted Boettner
The State Journal - Ted Boettner, executive director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, has helped work on a Future Fund bill for the state for the past three years, promoting it as a way for the state to turn one-time revenue into a permanent source of wealth for West Virginia. Read
This year's version of the bill unanimously cleared the full Senate and is on its way to debate in the House of Delegates.
1. The State Journal: What is the Future Fund about?
Ted Boettner: "It's a way to turn West Virginia's non-renewable, depleting natural resources into something that can build over time. If we would've done this 100 years ago, we would've been one of the richest states in the country."
2. TSJ: Is the passing of this bill attributed to the budget crisis? Do you think the bill was passed this year because everyone realizes the budget problem is not going anywhere?
TB: "We're in a budget crisis because we cut our revenue base, resulting in $425 million of (lost) revenue from these tax cuts.
"(The Future Fund) is something to protect our long-term fiscal health. Dealing with the budget is a separate issue than dealing with revenue today."
3. TSJ: How is the Future Fund different from the Rainy Day Fund?
TB: "The whole purpose of the future fund is today severance taxes make over 10 percent of the budget so one day they'll be gone. this fund (is meant) to be paying out more in interest income than it's receiving in severance taxes and it will be capitalized at that point. (The Future Fund) has something tangible to show for it. we are a very asset poor state, and this is a way to build assets.
"This is a sunny day fund. this is to be used to help make our economy stronger and better, so our workforce will have more skills and better jobs. The rainy day fund hasn't been tapped for a long time, this one eventually will be tapped every year, but the beauty is it can grow every year."