Majority Support Reclaim Act

This week the results of a survey of voters across Appalachia show a majority support the Reclaim Act to bring federal resources to hard-hit coal communities. The majority also favor diversifying the area’s economy in order to bring more jobs to the region.

Here’s more from West Virginia Public Broadcasting and the Lexington Herald-Leader.

“Improvement” in Tax Foundation Index Does Not = Jobs

This week, the Tax Foundation released its 2017 State Business Tax Climate Index (SBTCI) that gave West Virginia the 18th-best state business tax climate in the country, better than any of our surrounding states, and up from 34th place.

The reason for this change has do with the major business tax cuts that were phased-in between 2007 and 2015 costing the state budget over $400 million. While this may have reduced business costs, it has led to large budget cuts to programs like higher education from which businesses directly benefit. And the cuts did not bring about private-sector job growth. West Virginia had more private sector jobs in 2007 (619,000), than it does today (614,500).

Read more in Ted’s blog post.

Comment Period Closes in One Week

Click here to add your voice to the hundreds of thousands of people from across the country who are calling for a strong payday lending rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. While payday lending is illegal in West Virginia, a weak payday lending rule could give predatory lenders a way to get around our state’s strong protections.


Help Us Get to 1,600 Followers!

We just need 38 new followers on Twitter to meet our goal! Please follow us @WVCBP!

Hearts, Minds and Futures

This Tuesday in Wheeling!

Sometimes Meetings Can Be Tough Stuff

Sid Boettner doesn’t quite make it to the end of yesterday’s meeting

The Tax Foundation’s Business Tax Rankings Aren’t Useful

Yesterday, the Tax Foundation released its 2017 State Business Tax Climate Index (SBTCI) that purports to show that West Virginia now has the 18th-best state business tax climate in the country, ranking better than any of our surrounding states. Policymakers and others should exercise caution in drawing any positive conclusions from the report since the index bears little to no relation to what businesses actually pay in taxes nor is it a good predictor of state economic growth, as economist Peter Fisher has summarized here. (The index also fails to consider the obvious point that taxes paid by businesses help provide the resources necessary to train their workers, move their product, and protect them from misfortune.)

For example, take West Virginia. West Virginia has seen its “business tax climate” go from 34th to 18th best from 2007 to 2017. The reason for this change has do with the major business tax cuts that were phased-in between 2007 and 2015. Altogether, the state reduced business taxes by at least $225 million annually in 2015. While this may have reduced business costs, it has led to large budget cuts to programs like higher education from which businesses directly benefit. What about business growth? Well, private-sector job growth has been abysmal. West Virginia had more private sector jobs in 2007 (619,000), than it does today (614,500).

The central reason why indexes such as this one, and business tax levels in general, fail to predict growth is that they are a small cost of the doing business – usually less than 2 percent. Other factors, such as the cost of labor, transportation, utilities, and occupancy are usually much bigger considerations.

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Rational profit-maximizing businesses would also consider the level of public provisions (e.g. good schools, roads, etc.), the quality of life, the supply of qualified workers, and other state and local policies. Businesses might also look to national tax policies and national economic conditions when looking to expand and make a profit. All of these other considerations cast doubt on the theoretical argument that state taxation alone will have a large impact on economic growth.

Policymakers in West Virginia would be wise to listen to what Minnesota’s Governor Mark Dayton’s office recently said about its unfavorable ranking in the Tax Foundation’s index: “The Tax Foundation has an anti-tax ideology and views lower taxes as desirable…For the past two years, Minnesota has ranked in the top five best states for business by CNBC, due to our highly-educated workforce, investments in infrastructure, and high quality of life with a lower cost of living, none of which the Tax Foundation factors into its rankings.”

Tax Reform For Working Families Could Improve West Virginia’s Chronic Poverty Rate

Too many West Virginians struggled to make ends meet in 2015, and the number of West Virginians living in poverty remained unchanged. One solution? A Working Families Tax Credit that would help people who work for low wages keep more of what they earn.

How could a West Virginia Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) help your community by boosting the economy and helping workers stay on the job? Find out here.

This week’s Clarksburg Exponent-Telegram further explains how West Virginia can improve its ranking, currently the 7th highest rate of poverty in the nation.

Lawmakers Urged to Raise Revenues

This week the Charleston Gazette urged legislators to raise revenues to help fill next year’s projected budget gap. Suggestions included raising the tobacco tax further, and increasing the tax on soft drinks and alcohol, among other ideas.

If not, we could face more cuts like these:

Comment Period Ending Soon – Have You Signed Yet?

Click here to add your voice to the tens of thousands of people from across the country who are calling for a strong payday lending rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. While payday lending is illegal in West Virginia, a weak payday lending rule could erode our protections.

Help Us Get to 1,400 Likes!

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Hearts, Minds and Futures

Tuesday, October 4 in Wheeling!

New Data: Thanks to Health Care Reform, More of Us Have Health Insurance

More and more West Virginians have health insurance, thanks to the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid Expansion.

According the U.S. Census Bureau, 108,000 West Virginians lacked health insurance in 2015, a decrease of 48,000 from 2014. With 94.0 percent of West Virginians now having health insurance, the state’s uninsured rate in 2015 was 6.0 percent, down from 8.6 percent in 2014, and 14.0 percent in 2013, before the Affordable Care Act was fully implemented.

Here’s more in the Charleston Gazette-Mail and the Huntington Herald-Dispatch.

This week’s Census Bureau numbers weren’t all good news, though, showing that the state’s poverty rate didn’t budge. With the 7th highest poverty rate in the nation, West Virginia continues to struggle to recover from the Great Recession. Nearly one in four of us still lives in poverty. And African American’s in West Virginia have it much worse with over one in four people struggling at or below the poverty line.

Decline in WV Coal-Mining Jobs Explained

This perspective in the Wall Street Journal this week, which mentions our research, discusses how coal-mining employment has been on the decline for decades, with much thanks to machines taking over the work that miners used to do.

What can policymakers do to help coalfield communities? The Reclaim Act, which would bring much-needed financial assistance and retraining, is currently stalled in Congress. The bill has bipartisan support and 27 resolutions have been passed by Appalachian communities calling for Congress to act. Here’s more from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Have You Signed Yet? Add Your Voice to Keep Payday Lending Out of West Virginia!

Click here to add your voice to the tens of thousands of people from across the country who are calling for a strong payday lending rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Hearts, Minds and Futures

This Monday in Charleston!

They Did It, We Can Too: Lessons from Montana

Speakers: John Engen, Mayor of Missoula, Montana

Steve Spratt, Manager of Florida Governmental Utility Authority

Rising water rates, lack of infrastructure investment and water quality problems led communities in Florida and Montana to replace failing private water systems with locally owned, public water systems. Hear about their experiences!

For more information, email Cathy Kunkel.

sept-22-water-meeting

West Virginia’s Budget Crisis Affects Us All

It took a special session but lawmakers successfully balanced this year’s budget as the clock was running out. A mixture of Rainy Day funds, budget cuts, and an increase in the tobacco tax filled the gap. They did not, however, provide a long-term solution and West Virginia will face a similar situation next year.

How did we get here? What are the solutions? WVCBP staff is hitting the road to talk about this issue that is important to us all.

If you are interested in hosting a presentation, please email us. Perhaps you are a member of a civic organization, a nonprofit group or a club. We will come to your meeting a give a budget talk tailored to your agenda.

Want a preview? Here’s Ted Boettner’s presentation he made at West Virginia University this week.

Here’s more in the Morgantown Dominion Post and on WBOY-TV.

Contact us for more information. Visit our Events page for future presentations.

Lead Sponsor Explains Why a WV EITC is Important

This week Delegate Matthew Rohrbach (R-Cabell) explained via an op-ed in the Charleston Gazette-Mail why it’s so important that West Virginia lawmakers pass a bill to bring a state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to West Virginia.

Here’s an excerpt:

“As a physician, evidence always guides the decisions I make with respect to my patients’ care. I keep the same principles in mind as a state legislator, and evidence shows that a West Virginia EITC is a win-win for the state.

“We already know the federal EITC provides a tax credit to working families, helping them afford basic necessities that make it more likely their kids will thrive and that they can afford things that make it possible to hold down a job, like reliable transportation. A West Virginia EITC would provide an additional lift for those same families.”

Read the entire op-ed here.

Find out how much a state EITC would boost your local economy here.

Welcome, Luke!

We are happy to welcome Luke Yingling as our fall intern! Luke is a Senior political science and history student at the University of Charleston. He currently assists Huntington’s Office of Drug Control Policy with policy advocacy campaigns. He has held a number of internships in the past with non-profit organizations, working primarily on community needs research.

Luke’s project while he is with us will be to publish his research on the state’s drug court system.

Hearts, Minds and Futures – This Monday in Huntington!

They Did It, We Can Too: Lessons from other public water fights

Thursday, September 22nd
7:00-8:30pm
University of Charleston Appalachian Room (in the Geary Student Union)
RSVP: www.ourwaterwv.org/events

The movement for a public water system in the Kanawha Valley is growing due to frustration with WV American Water’s high rates, frequent main breaks and poor service. Save the date for a public forum on what it could look like to create a public water system for the Kanawha Valley.

In 2013, Florida residents took public control of a failing private water system owned by Aqua Florida. Join us to learn more about how this happened and what citizens can do to create a public water system that is transparent, accountable and fair. For more information, email Cathy Kunkel.

Keep Payday Lending Out of West Virginia

payday lending theatre marquis

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has proposed rules that, if strengthened, could rein in the worst abuses of payday and car title lending. Thankfully, West Virginia protects against abusive payday and car title loans, but the CFPB still needs to hear from you.

Add your voice now to stop the debt trap!

Payday loans notoriously carry 300+% APR (annual percentage rate). Strategically located in low-income neighborhoods, payday lenders intentionally trap borrowers in debt that they cannot escape. The average payday borrower is trapped by ten transactions in a year.

Though payday lenders are not allowed in our state, we still need a strong national rule. Payday lenders will use a weak rule to seek a green light to come back into West Virginia.

Support a strong rule to stop these predatory practices.

Thank you so much for acting today.

What Do Cuts to Higher Ed Mean to You?

Join Us in the WVU Mountainlair – In Person or Streaming!

Balancing the state budget has meant year after year of cuts to higher education funding in West Virginia. Public colleges and universities have been forced to respond with tuition hikes while the state’s Promise scholarship has remained flat, putting college affordability out of reach for some West Virginia families.

Want to find out more about how the state budget works, how we got into our current crisis and how we can get out?

On Tuesday, September 6, WVCBP Executive Director Ted Boettner will kick-off our speaker series at the West Virginia University Campus at 2:00 PM at the Mountainlair.

Can’t be there in person? Join us here.

Contact us for more information. Visit our Events page for future presentations. Thanks!

Facts About Year One of Prevailing Wage Repeal

A big priority of the legislature last year was to repeal the state’s prevailing wage. Promises were made of cost savings and job creation. In fact, West Virginia lost 1,000 construction jobs in the past year (see data below from the Bureau of Labor Statistics). Read more in this week’s State Journal op-ed by Senior Policy Analyst Sean O’Leary.


Hearts, Minds and Futures

The WVCBP is proud to join organizations from across West Virginia to sponsor six forums on juvenile justice, mental health and education in the Mountain State. For more information, please contact info@wvmh4kids.org or 304-444-5917.

  • Huntington: Tuesday, September 13, 5:00 to 7:00 PM in the Memorial Student Center at Marshall University
  • Charleston: Monday, September 19, 5:30 to 7:30 PM in the Appalachian Room at the University of Charleston
  • Beckley: Wednesday, September 28, 5:30 to 7:30 PM at WVU-Beckley
  • Wheeling: Tuesday, October 4, 5:30 to 7:30 PM in the NTTC Auditorium at Wheeling Jesuit University
  • Morgantown: Friday, October 7, 5:30 to 7:30 PM in the Rhododendron Room, Mountainlair at WVU
  • Martinsburg: Tuesday, October 25, 5:30 to 7:30 PM in the HSC Auditorium at WVU-Martinsburg

Why is juvenile justice such an important issue? While most states have reduced the number of their youth in confinement, West Virginia’s confinement rate has grown by more than 50%. It’s time to look at cost-saving alternatives that would save the state money while still protecting public safety.

View full PDF here.

Have You Taken This Quick Action to Keep Payday Loans Out of West Virginia?

Take this quick action to add your voice now to stop the debt trap – please add a personal note if payday lending has affected you or someone you know!

Though payday lenders are not allowed in our state, they will use a weak rule to come back into West Virginia.

Support a strong rule to stop these predatory practices.

Want to know more about how much better off West Virginia is without payday lending? Check out this report by the Center for Responsible Lending. Every year, residents in states that ban payday lending save over $2 billion in fees. West Virginia alone saves over $48 million annually!