Reality

State revenues flatten in October

Well, it was fun while it lasted. But a few days ago, state officials got a reminder of good old West Virginia

reality.

During the first three months of the fiscal year, collections for the state’s general revenue budget soared in comparison to what had been projected. They were more than $119 million ahead of estimates on which the budget was based.

Numbers for October have been released — and the upward curve has nearly flattened. Revenue for the month was slightly less than $2.4 million in excess of estimates.

That still leaves the state $122.3 million ahead of the amount on which the budget for the first four months of the fiscal year was based. In comparison to this time last year, when revenue was $8.3 million below estimates, that certainly is progress.

But there should be some concern over the two largest single revenue items in the budget. They are collections from personal income taxes and state sales taxes. The rate of growth in those receipts is slowing noticeably.

State officials have no reason to adopt a doom and gloom attitude. Again, collections remain substantially higher than both budget estimates and revenue from last year.

What Gov. Jim Justice and legislators should be doing is reconsidering any grandiose plans they may have had for next year’s budget.

Already, they have pledged to increase the state’s contribution to the Public Employees Insurance Agency by $100 million, and to enact another 5 percent pay raise for state employees, at a cost of around $80 million a year.

October may have been a fluke. The big upswing may continue in November. For now, however, prudence is the watchword.

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