The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

March 13, 2014

Get real

— As if trying to find $120 million — the new projected shortfall — to fund the state’s 2014-2015 budget weren’t a hard enough task, it now seems that some lawmakers are making it more difficult.

Sen. Roman Prezioso, the Marion County Democrat who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, says election year politics are intensifying the struggle.

All 100 seats in the House of Delegates and 17 of the 24 state Senate seats are up for election.

That makes budget negotiations more difficult, Prezioso said, and some crucial budget legislation didn’t make it through both chambers before the final gavels fell Saturday night at the end of the regular session.

“Politics plays a major part in all this,” he said. “People want to get elected; people want to do things to help constituents.”

This, then, is where we say lawmakers need to stop the self-servance, suck it up and do what is best for West Virginia and its citizens.

We understand that no one wants their project to lose funding. But revenue isn’t endless and sometimes you just have to face facts.

What do you do in your home when you have a budget shortfall? Most would have a serious discussion with family members and rearrange budget items to help close the gap.

And that is what are legislators are being paid to do.

The people who voted you into your office deserve your best efforts. Bickering, shouting and belligerence must be put aside, as well as party affiliations.

Problems never get solved if no one is willing to negotiate calmly and to compromise.

To those lawmakers who are standing for re-election: if you are well and truly doing what is right for West Virginia and West Virginians, you need not worry about being returned to Charleston.

You weren’t put there to enjoy a two-month vacation every winter. You were put there by people who trusted that you could — and would — watch their backs. That you would make sure that programs that help your constituents the most get their just due.

We concede there have been distractions aplenty this session. The attention diverted — deservedly so — to the Elk River chemical spill may have impaired the focus of lawmakers about why else they came to Charleston.

But, sirs and madams, it is now time to get serious, lay politics aside and ensure West Virginia remains the wonderful place we’ve always known it to be.