Published March 1981 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd Budget Cutting Spending reductions are inevitable this year as Congress and the Administration work toward balancing the federal budget and restoring vitality to our national economy. Federal programs that have proved effective in promoting economic development and putting people back to work, however, should not be abolished arbitrarily. Two federal agencies that have contributed greatly to West Virginia's economic, commercial, and industrial bases, for instance, are the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the Economic Development Administration (EDA). Cancellation of these two programs, both of which work to improve our productivity, would be counterproductive. The ARC, created in 1965 to promote the economic development of the entire Appalachian region, has had a hand in building highways, offering technical assistance to private enterprise, improving health care, building educational centers, and assisting in housing development. ARC funds also have assisted many West Virginia communities in financing water and sewer systems improvement projects, such as the Williamson water system in Mingo County, and the Princeton sewer system in Mercer County. In addition, the completion of more than 1,500 miles of the Appalachian Development Highway System has contributed to the creation of thousands of jobs in Appalachia. Likewise, the EDA has been the margin of difference in the survival or demise of certain West Virginia companies and industrial plants. This agency has contributed to the building of industrial parks in West Virginia, such as those in Marlinton, Charles Town, and Fairmont. It provided a loan guarantee for Anchor Hocking to purchase and upgrade an industrial plant in Clarksburg, saving more than 1,000 jobs, and similarly assisted Sterling Faucett's purchase of a brass works plant in Morgantown, which kept the plant in productive use, instead of allowing it to close. The EDA also assisted in the development of water systems and urban revitalization projects in the state, as well as providing a $100 million loan guarantee to Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel, that saved several thousand jobs in the northern panhandle. Budget cutting obviously is necessary this year as Congress and the Administration attempt to put our nation's economic house in order. It would be shortsighted, however, to eliminate programs that nourish the economic foundations of our states.