WEST Virginia's highway needs are growing, but tax revenue from fuels has stayed flat as cars and pickup trucks became more efficient. Sen. Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, wants to study whether the state should impose some sort of tax based on miles driven.
There are two problems with that proposal. The first is that such a tax would reduce the incentive for motorists to get more miles per gallon. The second problem is how the state would track those miles driven.
"Personal privacy issues have always been a concern for me," said Sen. Clark Barnes, R-Randolph. "Taxation that sacrifices personal privacy - I cannot support that."
An increase in the gasoline tax - which is now more than 50 cents a gallon when the federal tax of 18.4 cents is included - is unlikely. Still, the needs are very real.
"The bottom line is our roads are in the worst shape that they've been in a long time," Plymale said.
"We're on a 24-year paving cycle when we should be at a 12-and-a-half-year, and we've got to find some ways to be able to come up with this."
Perhaps instead of taxing only drivers, general tax revenues should be used. If the roads belong to everyone, then everyone is responsible for their construction and maintenance.
SEN. Joe Manchin returned to the Statehouse this week for the unveiling of his official gubernatorial portrait, which will hang in the governor's Capitol reception room alongside that of his immediate predecessor, Gov. Bob Wise.
Eventually, as governors change, the painting will move into the Corridor of Governors in the Capitol.
Artist Larry Bruce Bishop did an excellent job, depicting Manchin in a dark pinstripe suit with a yellow tie.
"I never did sit or pose for this. I said, 'I'm going to be me and you take some (photos of me) and you figure it out,'" Manchin said. "He brought his work to me and I was very impressed by it."
Visitors to the Capitol now can see portraits of governors going all the way back to the first one, Arthur I. Boreman of Middlebourne, Tyler County. Like Manchin's, Boreman's governorship ended with his election to the U.S. Senate.
In fact, Manchin holds Boreman's seat.
Today's people can go back in time to see who led the state 150 years ago. We owe it to people 150 years hence to let them see what our governors looked like.