Editorial: Future Fund

January 28, 2014

Beckley Register-Herald – As state lawmakers debate how to close a $143 million budgetary shortfall for this budget year, the options are less than thrilling. Read

They are debating a second year of 7.5 percent budget cuts and a hiring freeze for state employees. And they are looking everywhere for sources of revenue to somehow apply toward balancing that budget.

Those are real and immediate problems.

Yet it is refreshing to see some state leaders looking beyond the concerns of today to fashion a plan to minimize these types of budget problems in the years to come.

Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, is proposing a Future Fund which would set aside 5 percent of the severance tax for oil and gas drilling, which is occurring mostly in the northern part of the state.

If the Legislature had done the same with the coal severance tax in 1975, Kessler says, the state would have $8 billion in reserves earning $800 million annually at 10 percent interest.