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Cafe Society to discuss the looming West Virginia state budget crisis

By Staff | Jan 15, 2016

In its continuing effort to hold informal discussions on current political, economic and social issues the Cafe Society will conduct its next session on Tuesday, Jan. 19. The topic is focused on the growing concern voiced at state and local levels about the difficulty of meeting budgetary expectations when there is serious erosion of traditional revenue sources. The Cafe Society is a part of Shepherd University’s Life Long Learning Program. These informal weekly discussions are held from 8:30 to 10 a.m. in the Rumsey Room of the Shepherd University Student Center each Tuesday morning. Pre-registration is not required and there are no fees or charges.

Mike Austin, one of the Cafe Society facilitators commented, “We probably won’t be able to deal adequately with the complex set of issues that drive the budgetary process in this first session. But at least we will gain an appreciation of the difficult task that our political leaders face. This situation has been building over the past several years as coal royalties and gambling revenues continue to decline. Normal austerity measures and further draws on rapidly diminishing reserves will not suffice. We will have to find new ways of generating sustainable resources (which may include raising taxes) and or making significant cuts in programs and government services. It will probably require some combination of both approaches. Their work is complicated even further by the compressed legislative calendar, and staffing limitations. These will not be easy choices to make because they will affect not just quality of life in West Virginia and discretionary activities, but the viability of many of our families.

He commented, “To keep it interesting and help our participants understand the difficult decisions required, we will do some role playing and assume the position of the governor and key members of his cabinet and legislative leaders. Even cursory examination of the budget will help us appreciate its complexity and the limited number of options to address shortfalls. It should add to our appreciation of the necessary synergy between public and private sectors. High on the lists will be medical, educational, and social assistance infrastructure, facilities and personnel that play a significant role in the State’s economy. If we can work through several examples in this first effort, we can then come back and deal more fully with others after a little research. At a minimum we will come away with a deeper appreciation of what our political leaders face. There is always room for new ideas and approaches.”

Those with uggestions for future Cafe Society topics or who want more information about the Cafe Society program contact Mike Austin at 304-876-0598 or michael.austin@frontiernet.net.