Senate President Jeffrey Kessler is pushing forward on a concept to earmark a portion of monies being generated by the burgeoning extraction of oil and natural gas in our state for future economic opportunities.
Despite last winter’s failure of a piece of legislation that would have created the West Virginia Future Fund, Kessler has made it clear that he will keep it at the forefront of his agenda and he is putting together a team of lawmakers to go to North Dakota sometime in the near term to study that state’s Legacy Fund, a similar plan.
Due to the natural gas boom in North Dakota, that state has put $1.3 billion into its future fund in just four short years.
Unfortunately, or should we say fortunately, in West Virginia we have been down this path before with coal.
The lack of foresight and planning decades ago — when the black diamond was being extracted and shipped out as fast as mines could do the job — by state leaders has left us in a financial situation that could well be starkly different had they had the vision to start a future fund.
“Had we put away a few pennies of every ton of coal that came out of the earth in West Virginia 50 years ago, we’d be the richest state in the country right now,” Kessler stated.
Now, West Virginia once again has that kind of opportunity staring it in the face — with oil and natural gas.
And Kessler is obviously motivated.
Many times the public becomes concerned when lawmakers decide to spend taxpayer money to fund trips.
This trip, in our opinion, will be well worth it if afterward, our state leaders come together and devise a plan to assist in financing West Virginia’s future needs.
It’s a must do.