State must exercise spending discipline

West Virginians cannot afford for state finances to be handled the same way some people manage their money.

You know the type: Toward the end of pay periods at their workplaces, they run short of cash. So they cut expenditures. But when they get paid, it’s off to the spending races until, inevitably, they run short again.

Several months ago, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin ordered a freeze on hiring at most state agencies. It had become clear revenue was running behind projections. The state had to save some money in order to keep the budget in balance.

When the fiscal year ended June 30, the books were nearly balanced. That happened only because of emergency actions taken by the Legislature and Tomblin. The hiring freeze helped.

Now we are in a new fiscal year, with a new budget. And state Revenue Secretary Bob Kiss says the hiring freeze will remain in effect.

No doubt some agency heads are grousing about that. It is a new budget year, after all, and they would like to be hiring people to fill vacancies.

But Tomblin and Kiss are right. This year’s budget will be balanced only through extraordinary measures. Now is no time to take a break from strict discipline over spending.