Budget Beat - November 1, 2013
State Will Need More College-Educated Workers for the Future
This week the Charleston Gazette ran an editorial on how West Virginia needs to prepare for jobs of the future. Citing the WVCBP's 2013 State of Working West Virginia report, the editorial pointed out that good-paying jobs of the not-so-distant future will require a college education and it's past time for West Virginia to invest in higher education. By 2018, West Virginia will need to produce an additional 20,000 college degrees just to sustain its current economy.
Tax cuts don't happen in a vacuum and, with a $80 million projected shortfall for Fiscal Year 2014, the West Virginia state budget is starting to feel their impact. The state is having trouble balancing the budget without cutting important programs like higher education. In fact, the cost of business tax cuts doubled between 2012 and 2013. Read more in Sean's blog post.
Next week Kanawha County voters get to decide whether or not to increase the excess school levy. This increase would bring Kanawha County to the levy cap, along with 21 other counties which have maxed out how much they can collect from taxpayers to pay for education. To understand more about what this would mean to your pocketbook, check out Sean's explanation in the Charleston Gazette's coverage of the issue.
West Virginia is projected to see job growth of just one percent over the next five years. This is well below how it used to be in the state in the 1970s and 90s. How can we turn things around? Invest in ways to attract, keep and grow our middle class, as Ted explains here.
Investing in higher education is one way to grow the middle class. This month Marshall University will host a series of forums to discuss the second consecutive 7.5% budget cut to the state's colleges and universities and how the financial responsibility for higher education is shifting to families and students. Forums will take place in Point Pleasant (November 4), Huntington (November 5), and Charleston (November 7). Legislators and representatives from the governor's office as well as members of the Higher Education Policy Commission have been invited to attend. The forums are all open to the public.