Statehouse Beat: Leadership Needed in Budget Battle

Charleston Gazette-Mail - Well, here it is May, and still no state budget passed. Read

Speculation in March was that legislators would drag budget talks out beyond May 10, so they couldn't be accountable in the primary election for supporting any tax increases needed to balance the budget, and that scenario appears to be playing out.

Whatever's happening (or isn't) on the budget is taking place behind closed doors. No public meetings of the budget conferees have been held since March 15, with a media near-blackout by Legislative leaders and finance chairmen. (So much for more transparency in government.)

Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, made rare comments last week to the effect that the Legislature is waiting to see the governor's proposals. Actually, I believe the governor submitted his plan back on Jan. 13.

Armstead seems more interested in placating the tea party fringe of the House, characters like Delegate Michael Ihle, R-Jackson, who in a floor speech compared taxation to armed robbery, and who last week used the n-word in a tweet in an incomprehensible (and reprehensible) attempt to liken tax laws to Jim Crow laws. (Ironically, Ihle lives off two taxpayer-funded salaries.)


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