With the state's 150th birthday festivities fast approaching, the question has come up about who is footing the bill for all the Sesquicentennial activities.
As usual, it's taxpayers, mostly.
The Legislature made three $100,000 appropriations to the state Sesquicentennial Commission in the fiscal 2010, 2011, and 2012 budgets.
According to Chelsea Ruby, commission executive director and special assistant in the Governor's Office, the commission has awarded $233,171 of that total in grants to various local groups statewide for Sesquicentennial events.
The four-day 150th birthday celebration at the Capitol has a budget of $133,000, Ruby said. (Which may explain why the main concert event is Lonestar and Ronnie Milsap, and not, say, Lady Antebellum and Brad Paisley.)
There are also 33 corporate sponsors to make up the difference, although some are in-kind contributions.
Actually, under the 2009 law creating the West Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission, there should be a much more detailed public record outlining commission finances and actions.
One of the requirements in the statute is that the commission must submit an annual report to the governor and the Legislature at the start of each legislative session, outlining activities of the previous year, including fundraising, grants awarded, etc.
At this point, there should have been four reports submitted, with the most recent due this past February.
Total number of reports actually produced by the commission: zero.
I've written frequently about the stormy history of the Sesquicentennial Commission, which had a major parting of the ways in 2011, when about half the commissioners, wanting to emphasize history and academic issues, resigned in a feud with Education and the Arts Secretary Kay Goodwin and Culture and History Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, who favored using Sesquicentennial grants for parades, Civil War re-enactments, festivals and other tourist-friendly events.
It's not clear who dropped the ball on submitting annual reports, although the blame ultimately rests with the commission chairwoman - in this case, Goodwin.
Speaking of dropping the ball: After reaching its conclusion that the state needs to raise an additional $400 million to $1.3 billion a year to adequately maintain state roadways, the governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways seems to have gone into hiding.