First, there was the bill about asking adjacent counties in the Eastern Panhandle to secede and join West Virginia, now lawmakers are wasting even more time — and potentially money — trying to create more bureaucracy in Charleston.
West Virginia does not need a new intermediate court.
Just when it appeared the legislative session was running smoothly again and lawmakers were tackling issues that truly need to be addressed, along comes a cockamamie idea like creating an entirely new multi-million court system for the state.
There are more important issues to tackle that require funding and priorities of our Legislature.
Without naming everything that needs to be addressed via better legislation, here are but a few examples: the opioid epidemic, a broken foster care system, school districts that have buildings falling further and further into disrepair, roads and bridges and other infrastructure that could improve the quality of life for everyone.
The worst part about the legislation to create a new court is that it has already been criticized as appearing that it will favor the oil and natural gas business over the needs and concerns of individual people.
And to argue that such a court system is needed in the Mountain State because most other states have one is about as smart as saying wet streets cause rain.
And shall we not be reminded of the debacle that happened in 2018 with the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, which is still in the healing process after working through a tough 2019?
Even after everything those justices endured, they took a step back and looked at how the entire system was and wasn’t working. They didn’t ask for a new court system while making that review.
Not only is the idea of a brand new layer of judiciary ludicrous, but the proposal is being floated at a time that state revenue keeps missing its targets. Lawmakers should be looking at cutting spending or at least holding the line on spending and not making plans to add a new layer of government that could cost in the millions.
The W.Va. Supreme Court already oversees 75 circuit judges, 47 family court judges and 158 magistrates. After you add in all the other staffers around the state, there are 1,472 employees in the West Virginia judicial system.
There also might be a lesson here in looking at what the Supreme Court did in its year of re-grouping in the aftermath of the 2018 scandal that sent at least one justice to federal prison.
They cut their budget from $139 million to $121 million.
Now, while those numbers are still shockingly high, let’s see other W.Va. departments that have done similar trimming. They don’t exist.
It’s time for our lawmakers to take a step back and listen to its citizens. More costly bureaucracy never solved a single problem.
We urge the Legislature to re-focus, get back on track and start addressing the real needs of West Virginia.