(06/15/2005)
By Bob Weaver

The state's Budget Digest will go before the state Supreme Court today.

The West Virginia Supreme Court handed down an order a few months ago that bars the legislature from approving the Budget Digest this year until a review of the process is completed.

State lawmakers use the Budget Digest to fund dozens of community projects including fairs, festivals and pet projects.

If there is an element of the Digest that is certain. While it makes a lot of constituents happy, pork is generally unfair. Legislators say it was never meant to be fair.

House Speaker Bob Kiss (Democrat-Raleigh) has defended House Finance Chairman Harold Michael (Democrat-Hardy) for funneling millions of dollars to his rural county.

Kiss says that's what members do when they have tenure. They're suppose to bring home the bacon to their district.

Michael has funded everything from a Moorefield cemetery to creating the Eastern Community College, which has few students and was established when the state was looking at closing some colleges.

Michael has his name everywhere. "Just like Bob Byrd," says Kiss. It's on street signs, plaques, schools, playgrounds and community buildings.

Kiss says Michael has done nothing illegal or unethical, a statement he made last year about debunked Delegate Jerry Mezzatesta.

House of Delegates Majority Leader Rick Staton says lawyers representing lawmakers will make a clear case about the Budget Digest based on the separation of powers.

He says the legislature has the duty to make the budget and it's not fair for a court to require a certain procedure to be followed.


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