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WEST Virginia's highway needs are growing, but tax revenue from fuels has stayed flat as cars and pickup trucks became more

efficient. Sen. Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, wants to study whether the state should impose some sort of tax based on miles driven.

There are two problems with that proposal. The first is that such a tax would reduce the incentive for motorists to get more miles per gallon. The second problem is how the state would track those miles

driven.

"Personal privacy issues have always been a concern for me," said Sen. Clark Barnes, R-Randolph. "Taxation that sacrifices personal privacy — I cannot support that."

An increase in the gasoline tax — which is now more than 50 cents a gallon when the federal tax of 18.4 cents is included — is unlikely. Still, the needs are very real.

"The bottom line is our roads are in the worst shape that they've been in a long time," Plymale said.

"We're on a 24-year paving cycle when we should be at a 12-and-a-half-year, and we've got to find some ways to be able to come up with this."

Perhaps instead of taxing only drivers, general tax revenues should be used. If the roads belong to everyone, then everyone is responsible for their construction and maintenance.

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SEN. Joe Manchin returned to the Statehouse this week for the unveiling of his official gubernatorial portrait, which will hang in the governor's Capitol reception room alongside that of his immediate predecessor, Gov. Bob Wise.

Eventually, as governors change, the painting will move into the Corridor of Governors in the Capitol.

Artist Larry Bruce Bishop did an excellent job,

depicting Manchin in a dark pinstripe suit with

a yellow tie.

"I never did sit or pose for this. I said, 'I'm

going to be me and you take some (photos of me) and you figure it out,' " Manchin said. "He brought his work to me and I was very impressed by it."

Visitors to the Capitol now can see portraits of governors going all the way back to the first one, Arthur I. Boreman of Middlebourne, Tyler County. Like Manchin's, Boreman's governorship ended with his election to the U.S. Senate.

In fact, Manchin holds Boreman's seat.

Today's people can go back in time to see who led the state 150 years ago. We owe it to people 150 years hence to let them see what our governors looked like.

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WEST Virginia is $5 billion shy of fully funding its teachers pension plan. That's a lot of money that will be extracted from coming generations of poor people.

But California taxpayers will have to part with $300 billion to bail out their state's pension plans.  

Pension debts sank the city of Stockton, which filed for protection from creditors this week in bankruptcy court. One look at the pensions themselves shows why.

Stockton hired Tom Morris as police chief in 2008. He lasted eight months, retiring at age 52 with a pension that pays more than $204,000 a year.

By age 82, he will have collected more than

$6 million from the taxpayers of California.

He was the third of four police chiefs to retire within three years of accepting the job and receive pensions that average 92 percent of their top pay.

Government pensions are bankrupting cities across America. The city of Charleston had to eliminate 10 police positions to make payments on its massive

police pension liability.

Pension reform looms. It will be done either in legislatures across the land or in bankruptcy courts.

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SEN. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., discovered during a budget vote-a-rama that discretion is the better part of valor.

Whitehouse pushed for a vote on a carbon tax. The money would be used to finance additional

government programs, he said.

Not only did Whitehouse's proposal fail 58-41, with 13 Democrats joining 45 Republicans in

voting it down, but then Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., proposed an amendment to require 60 votes to pass any carbon tax in the future. His amendment passed.

Reports of the death of carbon-based fuels are premature. Americans want cheap energy and they tire of taxation as well.

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IN an effort to make a mere 2 percent cut in federal spending as painful as possible, President Obama threatened to cut the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.

America yawned.

The White House then turned to Obama's supporters to have the event funded privately. They also sold souvenir eggs.

The result is 30,000 people and children rolled eggs, and taxpayers were spared the bill. That should be a new annual tradition — having someone other than taxpayers pay for this party.


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