The Statehouse is beating the drum for massive tax increases to feed an ever-growing state government.
(Employment by state government increased from 38,121 workers in 1995 to 43,353 people last year, according to Workforce West Virginia.)
Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin appointed a Blue Ribbon Highway Commission to look at our highways and bridges, and sure enough, commissioners found them wanting.
Tomblin's commission determined the state needs to:
* Raise Turnpike tolls by $50 million a year.
* Nearly double the new vehicle registration fees to raise an additional $26 million a year.
* Raise title fees fivefold - to raise $19 million a year.
And the state would still come up $250 million short. Where to get that?
"It's got to be an approach where everyone feels some pain," said commissioner Jan Vineyard, president of the State Oil Marketers and Grocers Association.
There are just two problems with the commission's plan.
* State government does not need a single dime more.
* Highways and bridges are not falling apart.
The Henry J. Kaiser Foundation reported per capita government spending in this state is $10,985 a year - or double the national average of $5,251 a year.
Only Wyoming is higher at $13,585 a year.
Most of W.Va.'s money goes to welfare ($4.3 billion a year, mainly Medicaid) and education ($3.3 billion a year).
But taxpayers spent $1.3 billion on the Division of Highways last year, which oversees 38,646 miles of public roads.