West Virginia has moved to 18th in the nation in the amount of state taxes it collects per resident. It was 24th.

The big culprit driving the upsurge is a population in the state that shrunk slightly over the past decade while the population in all 50 states grew by 12 percent.

The U.S. Census Bureau released data on 2003 state tax collections in May. Combined with population and low personal income data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the figures paint a dismal picture.

"West Virginia is taxing both its citizens and its commerce about as much as it can. The capacity to generate additional revenues through tax increases is probably very limited," according to Marshall University economist Mark Burton.

The economist said the data suggests that the state has already gone too far and its heavy taxes are hindering the state's economic growth by driving away new businesses.

The lack of jobs also drives the lack of population growth.

While the per capita figures are bad, the comparison to personal income is worse. West Virginia collected $81 in state taxes for every $1,000 of personal income earned in the state in 2003 -- the third highest rate in the country.

The average for the 50 states was $60 per $1,000 of personal income.

The State of West Virginia will need more than $100 million in additional revenue next year to balance the budget and programs and services will be eliminated.

The last three governors have ordered across-the-board cuts, but that will no longer be an option.

The budget is likely facing a major melt-down in the next few years.