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WV Legislative Update: Delegate Brent Boggs - Minority House Finance Chairman

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Each year during the holidays, Jean and I always try to work around the hectic work and family schedules of our kids, Jessica and Justin.  Each with their own families, jobs and responsibilities, we understand it’s part of being a parent, regardless of how old they are or how long they’ve been on their own.

This year, we didn’t ask when or if they were able to come home for Thanksgiving.  So, it was a welcome blessing that everyone let us know weeks ago that they would indeed be home for Thanksgiving.  Jessica and family flew in last Friday night.  Justin and family will be here later in the week.  As I write, all will be gathering at the farm tonight and early next week for deer hunting with the family.  I’m hoping that the grandkids will have a successful and enjoyable time afield and build on their memories with family and friends.

Deer (gun) season begins November 20 and runs through Saturday, December 2.  Tens of thousands of men and women will be taking to the woods and fields over the next two weeks, with the highest concentration of hunters on the first three days.  I hope each of you that take to the woods enjoy a safe and successful hunt.  If hunting on private property, obtain written permission and please be aware of other hunters and respectful of their property.  Don’t leave your trash in the woods. 

This also is a time of great benefit for our local businesses in central West Virginia.  The hunters visiting our area will spend considerable dollars in many stores, restaurants and other business entities.  That money stays in the local economy.

Finally, let me briefly comment on the revelations of excessive spending on remodeling offices by the WV Supreme Court.  I’m as distressed with the finger pointing and blame game between the justices and a former court administrator as I am the excessive spending on furniture, carpets, in-laid floors, etc.  Someone had to sign off on these purchases and had knowledge of the price tag.

These past few years have been difficult financial times for our State.  However, the past decade or longer has been tough times on all our citizens, including many of our hard-working state employees, teachers, service personnel and retirees.  Good times or lean times, this kind of extravagant, wasteful spending has no place in government, at any level.  I know the chief justice, associate justices and former court administrator are all good, honorable people, but the fact is that this out of control spending on furniture and accessories is unacceptable.  We have many workers, including state workers that make less – much less – than the cost of the now infamous $32,000 couch.  Many of these very workers qualify for public assistance.  Wasteful and frivolous spending is not confined to the Supreme Court.  Just a few years ago, a former Senate President spent thousands on office furniture, rugs, etc.

Importantly, we need to recognize that other judges, magistrates or other judicial offices contained under the judicial branch should not be maligned or subject to criticism by these revelations of excessive spending at the top.

Constitutionally, the Legislature must provide funds as requested by the Judicial branch in the budget presented by the Supreme Court.  For years, discussions have been ongoing to bring the judicial budget under the budget process as every other agency, as is the case in many states.  While I think sometimes the power of the legislative branch is overstated, there is no doubt that the power of the purse rests solely with the House of Delegates and State Senate, subject the revenue estimates and veto authority of the Governor.  Unfortunately, the Legislature gradually began to cede some of that power to the Governor and executive branch, beginning with the Modern Budget Amendment to the WV Constitution in the 1960’s.

So, again this year, there will be a move to pass a joint resolution to place a constitutional amendment before the voters.  If approved by the voters, it would change the WV Constitution to remove the ability of the Judicial branch to set their budget independent of legislative oversight.  Notwithstanding the latest revelations on extravagant spending, I continue to believe it’s time to place the judicial budget in the budget process.  Fiscal accountability should span all branches of state government.

Please send your inquiries to the Capitol office:  Building 1, Room 258-M, Charleston, WV 25305.  My home number is 304.364.8411; the Capitol office number is 304.340.3142.  If you have an interest in any particular bill or issue, please let me know.  For those with Internet access, my legislative e-mail address is:

You may also obtain additional legislative information, including the copies of bills, conference reports, daily summaries, interim highlights, and leave me a message on the Legislature’s web site at www.legis.state.wv.us/.  When leaving a message, please remember to include your phone number with your inquiry and any details you can provide. Additional information, including agency links and the state government phone directory, may be found at www.wv.gov. Also, you may follow me on Facebook at “Brent Boggs”, Twitter at “@DelBrentBoggs” , as well as the WV Legislature’s Facebook page at “West Virginia Legislature” or on Twitter at twitter.com/wvlegislature.

Continue to remember our troops - at home and abroad - and keep them and their families in your thoughts and prayers.  Until next week – take care.

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