When it comes to estimating its expected tax revenues, the state has taken a conservative approach. The philosophy is that it is better to err on the side of surplus.
Lowering expectations and building up reserves have served the state well. The moves have helped the state avoid the budget deficits that have engulfed other states.
In November, state tax revenues fell $42 million below the conservative estimate of $284 million. That sliced the surplus for the budget year (which began in July) to $27 million, 1.7 percent above expectations.
That is certainly good news but by a much thinner margin.
With an election year right around the bend, elected officials will be tempted to use state spending to influence voters.
Legislative leaders and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin need to say: Read our lips. No new spending.
If revenues continue to fall below estimates, new spending would lead to new taxes.