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Editorial: Reining in surplus is important budget step

Feb. 20, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

A piece of legislation requested by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin this session doesn't represent a reduced interest in having movie and television production companies come to West Virginia. Instead, it's a good example of tailoring state spending to match reality.

A bill introduced in the House of Delegates last week would cut the allowable tax credits through the West Virginia Film Office from $10 million a year currently to half that, or $5 million. The breaks are for film, television, music video and commercial projects that are filmed in West Virginia. The idea behind the tax breaks, of course, is to encourage those projects to come to the state and contribute to the state's economy.

Is Tomblin calling "cut" on those projects? It doesn't appear so.

The largest volume of tax credits given by the film office in any single year is $3.9 million in 2010 when the bulk of the credits went to Paramount Pictures for the filming of "Super 8." So Tomblin is simply trying to align next year's allocation more closely to what's happened in the past. In the process, he's freeing up $5 million to go toward other needs, of which there are plenty. A Tomblin spokesman said the bill is part of the administration's effort to trim the state's budget for next fiscal year.

We trust that the same philosophy -- if the money isn't spent, move it to where it can do some good -- is applied to all parts of state spending. However, some lawmakers in the past have questioned whether surplus money in various accounts has been allowed to languish in those accounts rather than be reallocated to more pressing uses.

Considering rising Medicaid costs, the dire need for more treatment programs for substance abuse, and a host of other financial challenges, any unused funds should be put toward the most urgent needs.

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