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Did Manchin veto budget?

August 03, 2005

When is a veto not a veto? When West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin says it isn't, apparently. But the governor would do well to take notice of what the legislature did with his recommendations.

After the state budget was passed, Manchin deleted certain recommendations the legislature had added on how the money should be spent.

The legislature in turn restored that language when it passed the annual budget digest, a curious post-session device that often has rendered irrelevant what was done during the session.

Even odder, because it's done after the session by a small committee of House and Senate members, the digest's recommendations don't bind agencies. But, according to the Charleston bureau of The Associated Press, most agencies go along.

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What lawmakers are serving notice they won't go along with is Manchin's attempt to take what they feel is their constitutional authority to oversee state spending.

It need not be a tug of war, however, because West Virginia will need everyone pulling in the same direction, if state officials hope to reduce the state's debt, deal with failing infrastructure and cut taxes.

Those are the three priorities Manchin announced for next year's budget. Getting them on the table early was a good idea, but a better one would be working in collaboration with lawmakers on how to get them accomplished.

Former Gov. Bob Wise accomplished a great deal, but he might have done more had he done what lawmakers asked and agreed to share his plans prior to the session. Let's hope Manchin learns that lesson sooner rather than later.

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