After learning last week that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin would like to attach a jobs impact statement to future bills, I couldn't help but think, "Hey, that's a great idea — except that it's not."
Don't get me wrong. Requiring elected officials to review the economic impact of the laws they consider is a great idea.
But two years of covering the Legislature has given me a somewhat jaded point of view.
Under the Tomblin plan, the state Development Office, enlisting the aid of various state agencies, would estimate the short-term and long-term effects that various bills would have on the state's labor market.
The process would be similar to the one used to prepare fiscal notes - often mispronounced as "physical" notes at the statehouse — which attempt to measure how a bill will affect state government revenues.
The problem: State agencies have a less-than-stellar track record in producing accurate estimates.
Legislative Auditor Aaron Allred's office has studied the issue over the years and found agencies have a habit of overestimating effects of legislation.
Reviews of past estimates found that 69 percent of fiscal notes prepared in 2008 and 84 percent of those prepared in 2007 had been overestimated.
In fact, only 13 percent of the fiscal notes prepared in both years came within 10 percent of actual results.
My Magic 8 Ball has a better track record.
Lawmakers in both parties have complained about these agency-prepared fiscal notes over the years.