The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Our Readers Speak

March 26, 2014

Our Readers Speak — Wednesday, March 26, 2014

We deserve better from state representatives

I might be originally from Down Under, but Charleston has it backward and upside down.

In my experience as a husband and father, small business owner and active member of a number of community organizations, I can tell you that money doesn’t make you happy — but the lack of it can sure make you miserable.

Which brings us to the West Virginia Legislature.

Can anyone explain to me why our elected officials spend 60 days introducing bills like adding a special memorial day to celebrate the victory of democracy in the Cold War, then they take two weeks to review, amend and approve a budget?

What makes this even more perplexing is that the budget never gets done to the mutual agreement of the House and Senate, which “forces” legislators to spend more days in Charleston in a special session that costs us additional money — money we don’t have enough of in the first place.

We, the taxpayers, must house and feed the Legislature as its members try to figure out something they should have fixed at the beginning of the session, not the end.

And why even bother? Because after all that discussion and expense, the Legislature sends the budget to the governor, who rewrites it the way he wants it.

I would offer a simple suggestion: Do the budget first. Then, as time allows, address anything and everything else.

If the process were done the right way, there wouldn’t be last-minute surprises, such as unexpected cuts for groups like Theatre West Virginia. There wouldn’t be stunning cuts to funds that help children and families or to programs that prevent domestic violence. We wouldn’t see surprise tax breaks for professional sports — tax breaks that were offered behind closed doors and announced in the newspaper.

Backward and upside down. This is no way to run a family, a business or our government. It is time to expect more. We deserve better from those who represent us in Charleston.

Mick Bates

Beckley

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Our Readers Speak