While state policymakers pride themselves on balancing budgets and having built a sizable Rainy Day Fund, a new national report has found the state isn't doing a very good job at long-term budget planning.
West Virginia ranked 37th in a study of states' long-term fiscal planning measures released Tuesday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington think tank.
The organization evaluated states on 10 different measures.
Researchers looked at whether a state uses a multi-year roadmap to plan future spending, if its revenue and spending estimates are independent and credible, and whether it had the proper tools in place to stay on course.
West Virginia earned 4.5 out of 10 possible points - a "low" ranking, according to the survey scale.
The state was faulted for not having an adequate baseline measurement of its current services, a system to create an independent revenue forecast, a legislative fiscal policy office or any published information detailing the cost of tax expenditures.
West Virginia wasn't alone in the low marks.
Only 11 states had what the center considered "high" scores (greater than 7). Connecticut, with its score of 8.5 out of 10, earned the highest marks. Oklahoma and South Dakota finished last with a score of 3.
The state's low ranking did not come as a surprise to the folks at the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, which has long advocated for reforms to boost accountability and transparency in the state's budget-making process.
"The conclusions of this week's report mirror our findings about budget transparency and accountability, fiscal notes, and the dominance of the executive branch in budget decisions; so it is easy to see why the state ranks poorly on the CBPP's scorecard," said Ted Boettner, executive director at the center in Charleston.