(03/29/2001)
By Bob Weaver

It is good news for rural counties who depend on the Budget Digest. It has been declared legal, sorta. Now it must be discussed, debated and a decision made before the West Virginia Legislature which will attach a final seal of approval. It now has some elements of legislative process. It still has the potential for certain legislators to carve a million bucks for the money pot for their pet projects, while the poorer counties get "more than their fair share" based on population.

Counties like Calhoun would have great difficulty replacing equipment, upgrading projects or doing much of anything special for the community without Digest money, particularly since Del. Bill Stemple has been a member of the House of Delegates. Stemple has been able to increase the amount of money the county gets for local projects.

A decision on the Budget Digest was issued Monday with a 4-to-1 vote approving the system. The suit said the Digest process was flawed, politically driven and secretly decided with money being given to pet projects for politicians who are in favor with the House and Senate leadership. The dissenting vote by Justice Robin Davis said it had "obfuscated the law."


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