Legislators shouldn't have been surprised by Auditor Glen Gainer's budget report showing that the state has nearly $1.5 billion put away in reserve accounts, budget surplus, as well as more than $350 million in unexpended reappropriations.
Proportionally, the Legislature has been one of the leaders at socking away money, according to figures from the auditor's office.
Between the House, Senate and Joint Expenditures, the Legislature has $75.7 million put away for a rainy day (or rainy season), equal to 305 percent of its $24.8 million budget for 2013-14.
Most of the Legislature's money -- $55.7 million -- is in what is called the TRAFFIC account, a contingency fund that, like the state's $912.88 million in Rainy Day funds, could be tapped into in the event a natural and/or financial disaster caused a serious downturn in state tax collections.
The Senate is sitting on $27.9 million in unexpended reappropriations, including a total of $10.97 million in funds for member and employee compensation, $5 million for current expenses, and $3.58 million for members' expenses.
(That's more than four times the Senate's annual operating budget of $6.4 million.)
The House, by comparison, only has $7.05 million socked away, with about $2.3 million for member and employee compensation, $2.89 million for current expenses, and $2 million for members' expenses.
That's not quite equal with the House's $9.4 million annual operating budget.
In addition to the TRAFFIC account, the Legislature has about $5 million squirreled away in its Joint Expenses account, including $2.09 million in the legislative computer system account.
That most state agencies and departments have money in accounts that sit unexpended and roll over year after year is probably one reason Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's proposed $75 million in cuts in the 2013-14 budget hasn't caused great howls of protest.
Of course, the governor's office itself has $27.67 million put away in various accounts, including $24.9 million in the governor's civil contingency fund.
Actually, the civil contingency fund had a balance of $32.4 million when the budget year began July 1, 2012, but the fund tends to shrink a little in election years -- those giant checks handed out around the state have to be paid for from someplace.
(In 2000, then-Gov. Cecil Underwood not only tapped into contingency funds, but basically depleted them, handing out nearly $16 million in grants and awards in his ill-fated re-election bid.)