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Funding

Justice should be applauded for frugality

Frugality is not a virtue among most politicians, no matter how often they decry runaway government spending. Throughout the bureaucracy, “spend it or lose it” remains a warning most heed.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice may be an exception to the rule. Good for him. He and his fellow Mountain State residents should be rewarded, not punished.

You will recall that last spring, the federal CARES Act included $1.25 billion for West Virginia, to help cover spending associated with COVID-19. Of that total, about $800 million remains in the state’s bank accounts.

CARES Act provisions give us only until Dec. 30 to spend the money.

Justice was asked about that recently, and he expressed confidence federal officials will not try to “claw back” the $800 million after Dec. 30.

Let us hope not. West Virginia may need the money — especially if Congress fails to approve a new round of COVID-19 assistance.

A significant portion of the $800 million may not have been spent, but it has been committed for various purposes ranging from unemployment benefits for West Virginians to help local government entities may require.

Justice has been criticized by some within the state for not spending the federal money more quickly. But to date, it does not appear any municipalities or counties are in desperate need of help. The same goes for public schools, which are receiving some federal aid through a different channel.

Holding on to some of the money appears wise now, as another major surge of COVID-19 is hitting the state. Unemployed West Virginians and beleaguered businesses may be in desperate need of help in January.

So federal officials — by an act of Congress, if necessary — should not try to “claw back” any of our state’s allocation of CARES Act money. West Virginians and our governor should be applauded, not penalized, for conserving the funds.

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