By Bob Weaver|
Is it the biggest self-serving political cash cow ever created in
cash-strapped West Virginia,
or is it a really nice way of handing out about $35 million every year
to fund things that
never get funded?
If you are a poor county that hangs from year to year, you might like
the Digest, although
much of the money goes to counties represented by the leadership,
sometimes a million
dollars or more to build a college in their bailiwick. Yes, Virginia,
there are big ticket items
beyond a few bucks for fire departments, civic organizations and
little league teams.
The West Virginia State Supreme Court is answering such questions this
A lawsuit filed by former Justice Margaret Workman on behalf of Cabel
Johnson, the American League of Women Voters, the West Virginia Civil
Liberties Union and
the West Virginia Education Association - contends legislative
leadership uses the money to
maintain power and influence votes. Del. Johnson was whammed by the
Speaker Bob Kiss
for his dissenting view and removed from committees.
The suit also contends legislative leaders manipulate the budget
process in defiance of
separation of the legislative and executive branches.
Workman contends a handful of leaders decides how to spend millions of
dollars. She says
the entire Legislature should decide on how funds are spent. She says
leaders use the
Digest money and the Governor's Contingency Fund to spend this
Speaker Bob Kiss and Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin say they are