Social Security Keeps 132,000 West Virginians Out of Poverty

Social Security continues to play vital role in reducing poverty in West Virginia. According to the latest Census data, in 2014-2015 there were approximately 318,000 West Virginians living in poverty, including 40,000 seniors. Without Social Security, 132,000 more West Virginians would live in poverty.

Most people aged 65 and older receive the majority of their income from Social Security. Without Social Security benefits, 52% of elderly West Virginians would have incomes below the official poverty line, all else being equal; with Social Security benefits, only 12% do. These benefits lift 132,000 elderly West Virginians above the poverty line.

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Nationally, Social Security lifted more than 1 million children out of poverty. About 6.5 million children under age 18 (9 percent of all U.S. children) lived in families that received income from Social Security in 2015, according to Census data. This figure includes children who received their own benefits as dependents of retired, disabled, or deceased workers, as well as those who lived with parents or relatives who received Social Security. In all, Social Security lifts 1.1 million children out of poverty.

For more information, and to see how Social Security reduced poverty in all 50 states, check out this blog post from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

West Virginia A Leader in Health Care for Children


A report out this week shows that more U.S. children have health care coverage than ever. The numbers are especially good in West Virginia with less than 3 percent of the state’s children lacking health insurance. WVCBP President Renate Pore says that’s the lowest rate the state has ever had, thanks to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare).


Lunch and Learn – November 9:
Business Tax Cuts Haven’t Delivered Jobs for West Virginia

Business tax cuts have not kept their promise of bringing jobs to West Virginia. Why? Because state and local taxes don’t play a major role when business leaders decide where to locate and expand their companies. Tax cuts do, however, damage our ability to maintain the building blocks of shared prosperity like adequately funded schools and good roads.

To find out more, please join us at the Covenant House on November 9 starting at 11:30 AM. Bring your own lunch and join in on this important conversation!

A Real Living Wage

West Virginia is one several states to raise its minimum wage above the federal level. According to a new report, however, the bump to $8.75 an hour is not a living wage for a single person, especially one who has student loan debt. According to “Waiting for the Payoff: How Low Wages and Student Debt Keep Prosperity Out of Reach”, the state minimum wage would need to be at least $15.00/hour for a single adult to pay for basic expenses, and $16.38/hour if that person had student loan debt.

Equal Justice Under the Law
The next Race Matters in West Virginia event is happening soon in Lewisburg!

What: See Race Through a New Lens of Understanding

When: Friday, November 11 from 9:00 AM – 3:30 PM

Where: Kyle and Ann Fort Arts and Sciences Building, New River Community and Technical College

Who: Keynote speech by Reverend Matthew Watts; panel discussions about race, law enforcement, and the criminal justice system, presentations on alternative programs.

Cost: $10 if you register by November 1, $15 after November 1. Scholarships available.


Closing a $300 to $400 Million Budget Shortfall

Legislators solved last year’s budget crisis primarily with one-time fixes like money from the Rainy Day Fund. While they did raise the tobacco tax, that was not enough to permanently fix the problem. With revenues continuing to come in below projections, it’s likely to be a déjà vu budget situation during the 2017 Legislative Session.

In the last two issues of Budget Beat we’ve presented recommendations on how to fill the budget gap. But how did we get into this annual situation? Here’s the explanation from WVCBP staff in this week’s Clarksburg Exponent-Telegram on the path policymakers have taken to create year after year of budget shortfalls.

With another large budget gap to fill, here are the price tags on some of the choices that legislators might consider if additional revenue is not raised.

Shout Out to WVU’s (and WVCBP’s) Karen Kunz

Immediate Past WVCBP Vice President Karen Kunz, Associate Professor at West Virginia University, led the national conversation on infrastructure investment recently on National Public Radio’s Marketplace.

With the eye-catching title “Presidential Candidates at Least Agree on One Thing,” the piece cited the growing need, and price tag, to maintain the nation’s vital roads and highways.

Voter Guide Available for West Virginia Election

Our colleagues at the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition have released a comprehensive voter guide to help West Virginians make choices before heading to the polls on November 8 (or sooner with early voting).

The guide is a compilation of answers to a non-partisan questionnaire. Sign up here to receive a copy and find out how candidates stand on the issues that are important to you like school funding, higher education, and substance abuse.

For more on the Our Children Our Future campaign, check out this video.
Hearts, Minds and Futures

In Martinsburg on Tuesday, October 25 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm in the HSC Auditorium at WVU-Martinsburg.

Check Out Our WV Budget at a Glance – Invite Us to Present to Your Group!

Last week it was WV Taxes at a Glance, this week we unveil WV Budget at a Glance. We hope these two easy-to-read mini reports help guide you through the complicated process that is the West Virginia state budget.

Want an in-person discussion so you can learn more about West Virginia’s budget process? Give us a call and we’ll do a presentation for your organization, civic group or club. Contact Tara for more information.


Preparing for the Next Budget Crisis

As mentioned above and in previous editions of Budget Beat, WVCBP staff is making presentations across the state to talk about the continuing budget gap and recommendations on how to fill it.

Read more about our ideas to close the $300-400 million shortfall for next year in this week’s Inter-Mountain. Or listen to them here.

Why is West Virginia So Poor?

At this week’s Lunch and Learn, Rick Wilson from the American Friends Service Committee and WVCBP Senior Policy Analyst Sean O’Leary gave a preview of the upcoming 2015 State of Working West Virginia report.

Their presentation gave a great historical overview explaining how West Virginia became one of the nation’s poorest states and why it remains so.

Thanks so much to the West Virginia Covenant House for hosting Lunch and Learn on the second Wednesday of every month!


Medicaid By the Numbers

On October 3, Renate Pore, WVCBP board president, and Kathleen Stoll, WVCBP health policy analyst, made a presentation at the West Virginia Association of County Officials (WVACO) Annual board meeting highlighting the positive impacts of West Virginia’s Medicaid program.

The presentation included 2015 data on the number of children, adults, people with disabilities, and lower-income seniors who rely on Medicaid health insurance coverage by county. County enrollment varies from 48% in McDowell to 15% in Monongalia County.

They also shared data on the new dollars that came into each county through Medicaid. This flow of money generates new jobs in the health-care sector, and has a positive ripple effect creating even more jobs across all other economic sectors.

Medicaid is facing a significant funding shortfall next year but ideas for new revenue to support the program and pull in more federal dollars are circulating.

One such recommendation is an increase in West Virginia’s tax on sweetened beverages. Rick Wilson, WVCBP board member, wrote this Charleston Gazette opinion editorial calling for an increase in the state’s sweetened beverage tax.

Hearts, Minds and Futures

In Martinsburg on Tuesday, October 25 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm in the HSC Auditorium at WVU-Martinsburg.

WV Taxes at a Glance – Invite Us to Present to Your Group!

Throughout the next couple of months, WVCBP staff will talk to dozens of organizations across the state about West Virginia’s fiscal condition: specifically how the state can fix its upcoming budget gap, estimated to be at least $300 million next year.

Who pays taxes in West Virginia? What makes up our tax base? To help break it down, we’ve created this new two-pager to help explain (download PDF here).

Want to learn more about West Virginia’s budget process and how we can protect important programs like higher-ed and our K-12 schools? Give us a call and we’ll do a presentation for your organization, civic group or club. Contact Tara for more information.

Protecting Medicaid and Other Health Care Programs

At the September legislative interim meetings, Deputy Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) Jeremiah Samples and managed-care officials talked about Medical Loss Ratios (MLRs) of West Virginia’s four managed-care plans (MCOs). He did not have good news to share. West Virginia MLRs for managed care are set at 85% – meaning that the MCOs have to spend 85% on medical care and keep 15% for administrative costs and profits.

For State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2016, the average MLR was 97%. This is unsustainable for the MCOs and means Medicaid will have to pay them much more in SFY 2017, adding millions to the State Medicaid Budget.

The WVCBP is currently working with the West Virginia Medicaid Coalition to identify sustainable revenue sources for the state’s Medicaid program to help face these challenges. We plan to publish a report at the end of the year and provide recommendations to legislators.

Also at last month’s interims, WV Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Karen Bowling was asked to present on more than a dozen public health programs to identify duplication and opportunities to privatize them. Under scrutiny were the Tiger Morton Catastrophic Illness Fund, the Commission for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing, West Virginia’s national model on End-of-Life Care, the WV Women’s Commission, the child cholesterol screening process, tuberculosis control and others.

With another budget gap looming, it’s possible some of these programs could be on the chopping block during the 2017 Legislative Session.


Lunch and Learn: Why Is West Virginia So Poor?

Find out at this month’s Lunch and Learn. Grab your lunch and join us on Wednesday, October 12 at the West Virginia Covenant House from 11:30 – 1:00 PM.

Rick Wilson from the American Friends Service Committee and WVCBP Senior Policy Analyst Sean O’Leary will give a sneak preview of the WVCBP’s 2015 State of Working West Virginia report. This year’s edition contains an historical overview of the state’s economy, and where it stands today, and helps to answer the question, Why is West Virginia So Poor?

Hearts, Minds and Futures

Tonight in Morgantown – 5:30pm to 7:30pm in the Rhododendron Room, Mountainlair at WVU!

Marathon Man

Last weekend, WVCBP Executive Director Ted Boettner completed the Wineglass Marathon in Corning, NY, near the Finger Lakes region of New York State.

Here he is at the end of the race, joined by part of his cheering squad, Lucy Boettner.

Way to go, Ted!